Margaret “Elsie” Benton, 89, of Pasadena, California, who co-founded the Walter Hoving Homes, died July 7.
By News Desk
She was born May 15, 1934. For nearly 50 years, as Assemblies of God ministers, the Bentons visited with women on the streets of New York City and Los Angeles to offer them a way to escape drug and alcohol addiction and prostitution. The couple, known as “Dad B” and “Mom B” to residents, were married for 65 years until John’s death in 2017.
“Mom B was an extraordinary person who radiated warmth, kindness, and boundless love,” said Beth Greco, CEO and president of the Hoving Home. “She made all of our Hoving Homes feel like ‘home’ with her infectious laughter and genuine smile could brighten even the darkest of days. She had an incredible ability to make those around her feel seen, valued, and cherished.”
“I remember one night on the streets with her when I was in the program — she ran up to this lady and hugged her, tried to get her in the van to go to Hoving Home and when the lady said she wasn’t ready, Mom B slipped off her shoes and said, ‘You need these and when you are ready, we will be waiting for you!’ ”
In 1984, the Bentons expanded the ministry to California, opening a home in Pasadena in the former Mira Monte Hotel. In 2006 they added a third home in Las Vegas and in 2017 a fourth in Oxford, New Jersey. Women are allowed to stay for up to a year; more than 23,000 have lived at one of the homes over five decades.
Elsie is survived by her children, Marji Smith (David), Connie Adams, and Jim Benton (Judy), as well as her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
A Celebration of Life will take place Aug. 12 at the Harvest Rock Church in Pasadena and will be livestreamed. Memorial donations may be made to the Hoving Home.
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