Naomi Rose (Kuhn) Bender passed away peacefully in her home in New Orleans in the early morning hours of Thursday, September 26, 2019. She was 92. She will be forever remembered by everyone who knew her as a kind, gentle, caring and selfless person who put everyone’s needs and troubles ahead of her own. She was born Oct. 11, 1926, the fifth of eight children of John and Ruth Mae Kuhn at their farmhouse near Celina, Ohio. Those who were close to Naomi know that her memory began to fade several years ago. But her long-term memory remained, until the very end, crisp and clear. She enjoyed telling visitors, especially her grandchildren, about her childhood on the farm during the Great Depression. She could even recall the names and colors of the lumbering draft horses that were harnessed to the farm equipment and wagons. She would recall trudging through snow to the one-room schoolhouse, plucking chickens on the back stoop for Sunday dinner, which always featured fried chicken, and how she and her sisters helped gather vegetables from the half-acre garden next to the house. Naomi met the love of her life at Celina High School, John Russell Bender, who enlisted in the Navy at the age of 17. When he returned from the war in the Pacific, they married, moved to Lima, Ohio, and gave birth to their three children, Nancy, John and Diana. In the years that followed, the family moved from one oil refining town to another – first to Toledo, Ohio, then Corpus Christi, Texas, LaPlace and Opelousas, Louisiana, and San Juan, Puerto Rico. In retirement, Naomi and John settled in Barataria, in the home they built overlooking Barataria Bayou. Naomi loved the role she chose for herself in life as wife, mother and grandmother. As a true-life version of the iconic 1950s television wife and mother, she was always there to make sure snow boots were buckled, lunches were packed, bruises were kissed and tears were wiped away. Her most difficult role was caring for her husband through the long years of slowly progressing brain cancer. Naomi mourned his passing for 14 years, sometimes with a sadness that was heart-wrenching to those around her. But she took joy in the lives of her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She also enjoyed services at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in New Orleans until she was no longer able to attend. As her health declined, her daughters Diana and Nancy cared for her throughout every day and night. Her passing was preceded by her husband, her parents and six of her brothers and sisters. Survivors include her sister, Betty Kuhn Thomas of Celina, Ohio, her children Nancy Lee Bender and husband Bryan Pedeaux of New Orleans, John Steven Bender and his partner Katherine Miller of Austin and Diana Lynn Bender and her partner James Dean of New Orleans; her grandchildren Antoine Philippe Pedeaux and wife Rachel Rodriguez Pedeaux, Olivia Bender Undorfer and husband AJ Undorfer of Miami and John Brice Bender of Austin; great-grandchildren Jean-Luc Pedeaux of New Orleans and Ava and Adam Undorfer of Miami, and many nieces and nephews.
Funeral Service will be at 12:15 p.m. on Saturday, September 28, in the Gerald L. Schoen, Jr. Chapel of Jacob Schoen & Sons Funeral Home, 3827 Canal Street, New Orleans, 70119 with visitation beginning at 10:30 a.m. Burial will follow the service in St. Louis Cemetery No. 3 on Esplanade Avenue. The Rev. Irvin Boudreaux, Senior Pastor at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church will officiate.