Dr. Mary Bentley, a lifelong resident of Clark Lake, passed away peacefully at her home on September 25, 2016, with her loving husband and debate partner of 67 years at her side. She was preceded in death by her father, Senator Haskell L. Nichols, mother, Mary Townsend Nichols, sister, Ann Clark, brothers, John and Don Nichols. Survived by her husband Jack Bentley, her children Lynne Bentley (Tony Merlot), Gail Bentley (David Bomgaars), Jill Bentley, and Elise Fish (Brian); her grandchildren, Anders and Zoe Mavis, Lyssa Bomgaars, Brett and Elizabeth Potter and Lex and Maris Anderson. Also survived by her sister-in-law Wilma Nichols, first cousin and lifelong best friend Myra Breakey and many cherished nieces and nephews.
Mary was one of three female medical students to graduate from the University of Michigan in 1951. In 1953 she and her husband, Jack, opened a family practice office in Jackson and quickly became very busy. They worked side by side, often discussing the most difficult cases over dinner in the evening. It was not uncommon for one or both of them to be out most nights delivering babies.
When Mary was 80 years old she traveled to Chicago to take the board exam and placed in the 90th percentile, finishing the exam before any of her young peers. Mary was on staff at Foote/Allegiance Hospital for more than five decades and she often began her day at 5:00 A.M with ward rounds. In spite of this demanding schedule, Mary always had time to provide drop-in medical care to every child in the neighborhood from stitches to ear infections. She had an infinite capacity to give of herself to others and her care was always administered with a cheerful smile.
She retired reluctantly at 83 in order to fully enjoy her grandchildren and many hobbies. Mary was a lover of nature, animals and people. She loved to be outside and enjoyed many activities including swimming, cycling, running, horseback riding, sailing, skiing and tennis. She participated in the Clark Lake 7 Run and Clark Lake Triathlon for many years. Jack and Mary bought the second Hobie Cat on Clark Lake and were original members of Fleet 58. They enjoyed racing against one another on Sunday mornings. Mary loved her family with all of her heart; she shared her passion for working hard and playing hard with her family and anyone else she could recruit. She was incredibly intelligent, humble, kind, stubborn, generous, forgiving, optimistic and endlessly energetic. Her motto was “life is for the living” and she certainly had a life well lived. She touched so many with her generosity and kindness.
Mary will be greatly missed, especially by the Clark Lake community. A memorial service will be held at St. Rita Catholic Church on Saturday, October 29, 2016 at 10:00 A.M. with Reverend Tom Helfrich, O.S.F.S. officiating. For friends and family, a celebration of life will take place at the Clark Lake Golf Course from 11:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M. In lieu of flowers contributions can be made to Clark Lake Spirit Foundation (Spirit Trail), Henry Ford Allegiance Health and YMCA Storer Camps.
In 2013 Mary wrote of her early experiences at the lake under My Clark Lake Story. Click here to read it.