Skip to content

Betty Jean (Heggemeier) Benson

 BJ Heggemeier 2 BW.jpg

Betty Jean (Heggemeier) Benson, 81, of Houston, Texas, formerly of Nashville, passed away peacefully in her home on January 18 after a lengthy illness.

Betty was born at home on her family’s farm in Nashville in 1934, the third daughter of Phillip and Emma (nee Gilbert) Heggemeier. Betty was confirmed in St. Paul’s Evangelical and Reformed Church, and in 1951 graduated from Nashville Community High School. She attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she would meet her future husband. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education in 1955, and taught in the Champaign area, including 3 years at Lincoln Elementary. She was married at St. Paul’s United Church of Christ in Nashville in 1959 and moved to Oakland, Calif. Over the next decade, her husband’s work took Betty and their daughters to New York, Holland and ultimately Texas.

Betty was a homemaker, a school volunteer, and a devoted mom, aunt and grandmother. She was an excellent cook and seamstress, and an avid reader. Betty was a longtime member (and officer) of the Lakeside Women’s Club, Garden Club and Craft Club. She filled her home with beautiful embroidery and cross-stitch handiwork. She played the piano, enjoyed watching old musicals (both film and stage) and following the Fighting Illini football season.

Betty is survived by her brother Robert Heggemeier and wife Suzanne (nee Simms) Heggemeier, of Nashville, husband, Arnold M. Benson, Jr., of Houston; two daughters: Sara Benson, of Oakland, Calif., and Leah Margaret (nee Benson) Center and husband Joseph Center of Houston, Texas; four grandchildren: Lucas Center, Willem Center, Emma Center and Ally Center; two great-grand children; and countless nieces and nephews whose lives she touched.

Betty was preceded in death by her parents, and sisters Margaret Heggemeier and Mildred (nee Heggemeier) Stevenson, and brothers Gilbert Heggemeier, Wilbert Heggemeier and Philip G. Heggemeier.

Funeral services were held on January 24, 2016 at Memorial Drive United Methodist Church in Houston, with Rev. Charles B. Simmons officiating. scripture reading by Joe and Willem, words of remembrance from Sara and Leah, and songs that she loved sung by Emma and Ally.

In honor of Betty’s battle for over two decades, tribute donations may be made in her memory to the National Parkinson Foundation at, or to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, at


BJ HEggemeier 1 BW.jpg