Benna Molena Russell Purvine died peacefully on March 23, 2016, in Austin, Texas, at the age of 99.
She was born on June 6, 1917, in Blanchard, Okla., to Viola Anne and George Chester Russell. Benna graduated from East Central State College, in Ada, with a Bachelor of English – Summa Cum
Laude. She belonged to the Fraternity Phi Betta Kappa.
While traveling home with a schoo
l friend, she met her future husband, Harold O. Purvine. He was in the Army Signal Corps, stationed in Washington, D.C. Benna and Harold were married in
December 1940, in Washington, D.C.
When WWII broke out, Harold was sent to England. A recruiting officer told Benna that if she joined the WACs, she was sure to be stationed with her husband. She joined and after basic training she was graduated to 1st Lieutenant and sent off to North Africa. She was in the Signal Corps, and put in charge over the women coding and decoding messages. In 1943, she was sent to Naples, Italy, and then in 1945, she finally caught up with Harold in Europe. Benna won the WAC Service Ribbon for European, African and Middle Eastern Campaigns, and one Bronze Star. She was honorably discharged.
Benna was the executive officer of Camp Fire Girls in both Ada, Okla., in 1939, and Chicago Ill., in the 1960s.
Benna is survived by her children, son, Harold O. Purvine, of Seattle, Wash., and daughter,
Louanne Purvine Stenger, of Red Rock, Texas; grandchildren, Samuel O. Purvine, of Seattle and Jeremy Lenn Clay, of Clear Lake, Texas; great-grandchildren Corbin Cassius Clay and Carter Coen Clay, both from Clear Lake, Texas; and many loving nieces and nephews.
A memorial service will be held in late summer in Okmulgee, Okla., where she will be interred next to her husband, Harold.