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1932 Maria 2024

Maria Benda

September 10, 1932 — February 4, 2024


Maria Benda (Mester), 91, passed from this life into the arms of Jesus Christ on February 4th 2024. 

Maria was born in Kecskemet, Hungary, to Janos and Erzsebet Mester on September 10, 1932. She grew up in that town, located in the plains of central Hungary during the 2nd World War, with German occupation, followed by Soviet occupation after the war.  She and her boyfriend, Ferenc Benda, along with her brother John, escaped Hungary and its longstanding Communist rule and repression in the aftermath of the Hungarian Revolution in December 1956. They yearned for a free society and had hopes of the American dream. They escaped under the threat of gunfire from northwest Hungary to the famous Bridge at Andau, Austria, where they and many other Hungarians fled to freedom. During their nighttime escape, they assisted another family with a young child while they were running across a field to Austria, trying to avoid the spotlights and the potential gunfire of the Soviet soldiers. 

They were greeted by Red Cross tents and support over the border in Austria where they forged a friendship with the family they escaped with. This family had a sponsor in the US, and were able to leave Austria promptly; but Maria, Ferenc and John had to settle in Vienna waiting for an opportunity to come to the United States.  Maria and Ferenc were married in Vienna and their first son, Gabor, was born there. After 2 years, the family that they assisted who settled in the US, providentially became their sponsor, allowing them to come to America.

They arrived in New York City to start a life in America. Maria cooked meals in a hotel bathroom while her husband and brother walked the streets of NYC looking for work. After finding work at the Mercedes dealer in Manhattan, they moved uptown to the Bronx. Their 2nd son, Tamas, was born there in 1968. After a few years Ferenc and John started up their own Mercedes repair shop, which moved from the Bronx to West Nyack, NY. Everyone worked in the family business, and Maria was a bookkeeper there for years. When they retired, they all moved to Bozeman, MT to be closer to their grandchildren. They moved the year that their first granddaughter was born, as Maria always yearned for a daughter. She ultimately had 3 granddaughters. She was affectionately known as Momika, and she doted on all her grandchildren. 

Maria was the most dedicated wife, mother, and grandmother that one could hope for. She loved Jesus and has been looking forward to being in His glorious presence for years.  She poured her love into her family through encouraging words, as well as with meals and Hungarian pastries. It would be hard to leave her home without being fed a special treat. 

She is preceded in her death by her son, Tamas, her husband Ferenc, and her brother John Mester.  Maria is survived by her son and daughter-in-law, Gabor and Susan Benda; grandchildren, Lucas (married to Sarah), Kaitlin (married to Andrew Hondlik), Danielle, and Hannah; and her sister-in-law, Agnes. She is also survived by her nephews, Sandor Mester and his family, Jonathan Mester, and other relatives in Hungary.

Revelations 21:4 “God will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

A Funeral Mass will be held at Holy Rosary Church, Saturday, March 9, at 10:00 a.m, followed by interment at Sunset Hills Cemetery. In Lieu of flowers, please consider a love offering in Maria’s honor to ZoeCare, 2251 W. Kagy Blvd. #2, Bozeman, MT, 59718


To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Maria Benda, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Funeral Mass

Saturday, March 9, 2024

Starts at 10:00 am (Mountain (no DST) time)

Holy Rosary Catholic Parish

220 West Main Street, Bozeman, MT 59715


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