Casey Benning, 41, passed away on Dec. 3, 2019.
Casey Lynn was born on Aug. 10, 1978, in Williston, N.D., to Mark and Debbie (Bowers) Hilleren. Her first years were spent in Alexander, N.D. When Casey was two, her parents divorced, but that brought her dad, Evan Lynch, and stepmother, Cheryl (Lervick) Hilleren into her life.
Casey grew up in Williston and graduated with honors from Williston High School in 1996. In addition to being at the top of her class, Casey also harbored an amazing ability for music. She played the saxophone in pep band and jazz band, and she was active in her high school choir and jazz choir (which led to a choir trip through Europe). She also loved to play the piano and had the most beautiful voice, which she showcased at local talent and variety shows when she was younger and then at weddings for friends and family later on.
After graduation, Casey moved to Bismarck, N.D., to attend the University of Mary, where she graduated with a major in business in 2001. On Feb. 15, 1997 (during her Freshman year), Casey went on a first date to a winter formal where she, and a young man by the name of Ryan Benning, danced to Take My Breath Away. Four years later, on Sept. 1, 2001, she and Ryan - the love of her life - danced to that song again during their reception after they were married at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit in Bismarck.
After working in the banking industry for several years following college, Casey decided to pursue a career she was more passionate about, and in 2005 she received a Masters Degree in Occupational Therapy. Although Casey loved working with her patients and felt such joy when helping others, she worked as an OT for only a short while before she found her true passion: her family.
In 2007, Ryan and Casey welcomed their first son, Ryder, into the world, soon to be followed by brothers Christian (2008) and Grayson (2010), and finally their beautiful baby girl, London (2011) arrived to complete their family. From the moment Casey became a mom, she knew what her calling in life was. She always said she was good at a lot of things, but the one thing she was truly great at was being a mom.
Casey’s greatest accomplishment was her children, and since 2007 she selflessly put every bit of energy into being the best mom she could be. From staying up half the night baking cakes or helping build science projects, to simply always having open arms for loving hugs, Casey was happiest and most fulfilled when she was with her children and husband.
But her love and compassion extended beyond just her immediate family. The Benning home had a revolving door where neighborhood kids, friends, all of the cousins, and the rest of the family were welcomed with Casey’s bubbly smile and buoyant attitude. She was the kind of person who, no matter how crazed or busy, always had the time of day to chat with others. Even in her most trying time, Casey was thinking of others. She would bring treats, prayer cards, and handwritten well wishes to everyone she underwent chemo with every week, right until the very end, to let the rest know they were not alone.
Also, true to Casey, during one of her CaringBridge posts she thanked everyone for their prayers for her, but also said, “There are so many beautiful, courageous people who are also going through this. Please keep them all in your prayers as you pray for me as well.” She was truly the most thoughtful, compassionate, tender-hearted, and graceful person on earth. She projected optimism wherever she went, and even in her final months and days, Casey’s attitude helped others feel at ease and, as her husband said, “she handled it like she handled everything else, with poise and grace.”
Over the last two years, Casey lived by her faith and her love for the Lord never faltered. She wrote in another post once, “I told the kiddos the other day that anyone can have hope and faith when everything is going great, but it really matters that we have hope and faith when things aren’t exactly going our way.”
Although her circumstances weren’t what she’d ever hoped for, Casey never asked “why?” She said bad things happen to good people every day, so it didn’t matter why she was sick, only that God had a plan and she trusted in him. Casey’s faith was resilient and unyielding. She was truly an extraordinary person, and anyone who knew her was all the better for it.
On Dec. 3, 2019, after 23 months of embodying that grace and upholding her faith, Casey went home to the Lord, surrounded by loved ones.
Casey is survived by her husband, Ryan; children, Ryder, Christian, Grayson, and London; parents Evan and Debbie (Bowers) Lynch, and Mark Hilleren; brothers, Bryan Lynch, Seth (Ali) Hilleren; sister, Jenny (Derek) Maattala; parents-in-law, Reede and Mary (Waldock) Benning; brothers-in-law, Ray Benning and Rhett (Kerri) Benning; sister-in-law, Miranda (Josh) Harvey; paternal grandma, Carroll Lynch; grandparents, Jerome and Sherry Lervick; 11 nieces and nephews; and numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins.
She was preceded in death by maternal grandparents, Loren and Beverly Bowers; paternal grandfather, Dan Lynch; paternal grandparents, John and Delores Hilleren; and uncle, John Whisenand; a cousin, Toni Bowers; and stepmother, Cheryl (Lervick) Hilleren.
In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to your favorite charity, or just “Pay it Forward,” as Casey would have done.
To share memories of Casey and to sign the online guestbook, go to www.eastgatefuneral.com.
Mass of Christian Burial was held on Saturday, Dec. 7, at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Bismarck.