Mary Kathleen Benoit 

Published 5:00 am Saturday, April 13, 2024

Mary Kathleen Benoit of Iota died Tuesday, April 9, 2024, at Ochsner American Legion Hospital in Jennings. She was 55.

Mary graduated from A.M. Barbe High School in 1986 and McNeese State University in 1992. She was the art teacher at Iota High School, where she had the joy and privilege of helping decades of students develop confidence and creativity.

Mary was the fourth and youngest child of Jim and Judy Benoit, and she was one of the youngest members of the Benoit clan to grow up on the street in Lake Charles that bore the family name. She quickly carved a niche for herself as the family’s creative talent. She could draw, paint, model clay, and sew without patterns. She wrote a novel. Lately she had been making resin art. Her nieces and nephews had the most elaborate Halloween costumes, and almost everyone in the family had been rendered in portrait.

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For Mary, art was not just a way to express herself; it was also a way to affirm and encourage other people and their passions. She thought of her students as her children and invested herself in their individual quests for identity. She was happiest when she helped them discover what made them happy. It was the same way with her own family. Mary never required people to fit a certain mold before she deemed them worthy of praise. Whatever interested them was interesting to her, and whatever path they chose, she celebrated it.

Mary was a loyal daughter. She praised her father to anyone who would listen, and she always had time for phone calls and shopping trips with her mother. When Mary adopted her dog, Marley, in 2012, she was loyal to her, too. She and Marley went everywhere together.

Mary was preceded in death by her mother, Judith Benoit; and sister, Joan Benoit. She is survived by her father, James Benoit of Lake Charles; sister, Ellen DeWitt and husband David of Moss Bluff; brother, Tommy Benoit and wife Aleta of Moss Bluff; nieces and nephews, Jeanette DeWitt-Kyle and husband Trevor Kyle, Emily Fruge and husband Keith, and Brandon Benoit, all of Lake Charles, Steven DeWitt and wife Brianna of Sidney, Neb., Katie DeWitt of Moss Bluff, and Ellen Atkinson of Longmont, Colo.; and great-nieces and great-nephews, Abraham and Joan Kyle, Silas Fruge, and Freya DeWitt. She is also survived by Marley, who is safe and sound with Mary’s niece and will continue to be a regular at family gatherings.

Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Monday, April 15, 2024, at First United Methodist Church in Iowa. Her brother-in-law, the Rev. Dr. David DeWitt, and cousin, the Rev. Drew Mills, will officiate. Burial will be at Prien Memorial Park in Lake Charles. The family will welcome relatives and friends on Sunday, April 14, 2024 beginning at 3 p.m. until 6 p.m. at Hixson Funeral Home of Lake Charles. Visitation will resume at the church on Monday beginning at 8:30 a.m. until the time of service.

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