Leona M. Benefield, 89, died Tuesday, April 3, 2007, at St. John's Lutheran Hospital in Libby.
Leona was a lifelong resident of Lincoln County. She was born in Eureka to L. Dow and Blanche Ballargen O'Brien and was the granddaughter of Andrew and Sarah O'Brien, who were early day pioneers of the Tobacco Plains in north Lincoln County.
They later moved out to Black Lake near Rexford, where Leona attended the Black Lake School. She later walked five miles into Eureka each day to attend high school.
Leona married Clay Benefield on Aug. 8, 1938, and they lived at Black Lake until moving to the Libby area in 1943, living first at Sheldon Flats and later moving into town. Leona and Clay returned to north Lincoln County in 1950 where they lived at Rexford for 17 years until returning to Libby in 1967.
In the 1950s, Leona worked as a cook for the Forest Service at base and fire camps. She worked with Henry Hall in the camps and later worked for him at Henry's Restaurant in Libby for 18 years.
Leona and Clay enjoyed camping and later worked as campground ranger and hosts at Logan State Park south of Libby.
Leona was talented at handwork and enjoyed doing knitting and crocheting numerous items for both family and friends.
Clay preceded Leona in death in 1986. She was also preceded in death by her parents; brothers Fred and Frank O'Brien; daughter-in-law Barbara Benefield in March of this year; sister-in-law Pat O'Brien; and a nephew and niece, Lloyd and Frankaleen O'Brien.
Survivors include her sons, David Benefield and wife Gayla, and Don Benefield, all of Libby; brothers Louie O'Brien of Libby, Leo O'Brien of Rexford and Richard O'Brien of Libby; 10 grandchildren; 22 great-grandchildren; five great-great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, April 6, at the Nelson & Vial Funeral Home Chapel in Libby. Committal services will follow at 2 p.m. at Tobacco Valley Cemetery in Eureka. Friends may call in Libby at the funeral home from 1 to 8 p.m. Thursday.