Cover photo for Agnes (Agi) Vera Benko's Obituary
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Agnes (Agi) Vera Benko

November 25, 1957 — December 1, 2023

 

Agnes Vera Benko was born on November 25, 1957 at five minutes after midnight in Teaneck, NJ to János and Elisabeth Benko. Their first child, she was precocious and serious even from a young age. 

 

The family moved to Colorado in 1961. Agi attended Kennedy High School, where she played tennis and ran track. Her athleticism was matched by her academics, where she made Honor Roll. After graduating in 1976, she went to CU in Boulder to pursue a Bachelor’s in Architectural Engineering. She obtained her degree in May of 1980. While her parents worried about how she would survive in the male-dominated environment, Agnes just retorted, “What would you have me do, TEACH?” 

 

Agnes worked for several years at Public Service Company, receiving her professional engineering license in 1985. She left her job a few months after the birth of her first child, Clifton. Michael and Heather followed in rapid succession. Agi loved the job of motherhood immensely. When she went back to work she chose to pursue the career she had so vehemently eschewed earlier, teaching. She intentionally chose teaching so she could continue to maximize her time with her children by being home with them over the summers. She graduated from DU with a Master’s in Education in 1997. She taught briefly at Wheat Ridge Middle School before transferring to Lakewood High School, where she taught biology and chemistry. She was beloved by her students, her high standards and no nonsense approach were paired with a deep love for every kid who walked into her classroom. As was her nature, she went out of her way to find ways to engage all students, especially those on the fringes. 

 

After 7 years in the classroom, Agnes saw an opening when the school librarian retired. She went back to school again, this time obtaining a Master’s in Information and Learning Technologies in 2006. Being a high school librarian suited Agnes perfectly, allowing her to unite a love of learning, her passion for kids, and a voracious appetite for books. Agi retired from the public schools in 2013.

 

At this point, those of you reading are probably wondering what hobbies Agnes pursued in her retirement, and you would be underestimating the woman’s tenacity. Having kept her PE registration active all those years, Agnes reentered the engineering field, starting at URS, then AECOM, and finally Kiewit. No matter what team or project she was on, she quickly became the ‘gopher’ because she would ‘go for it’ with any task thrown her way. She tackled assignments that others found too daunting or onerous, and while she confided that she was intimidated by her new career, her dogged determination made her valued by her coworkers. Agnes was a woman of her word, you could count on her when she made a commitment. 

 

While we are all proud of her many accomplishments, Agnes would have said that her greatest achievement was her three children. Mom adored being a mother. She would rise in the wee hours of the morning so that she could fit everything in to her busy days, including shuttling us to sports, piano, school, and clubs, making home cooked meals every night, working full time, and managing to keep a full household cleaned and running. In order to make all of this possible, all she asked for was a half hour of quiet time so she could ‘put her feet up’ after she got home from work. She emphasized the importance of education, and was incredibly proud of the fact that she and her children were a family of engineers. Yet while math and science were important to her, Agnes wielded a precise command of the English language, acting as an editor for her kids’ school assignments, and cracking the whip if her kids misused “Can I” instead of “May I”. There was nothing she pursued less than 100%. 

 

There is not enough time or space to capture all the traits and quirks that made Agnes, Agnes. From the minute chopping motion she made with her hand while making a list, or her incredible belly laugh, to the extraordinary way she hosted several hundred people for graduation parties at her house. The single overarching fact is that Agnes loved, and was loved, fiercely and fully. She has left a gaping hole in the lives she has touched. 

 

We lost Agnes to pancreatic cancer on December 1, 2023. Agnes is survived by her mother, Elisabeth; her brothers, Alex and Will; her children, Clifton (Anna), Michael (Lisa), and Heather (Matt); and her grandchildren, Reagan, Harper, Sloane, Parker, Nora, Kanti, and Miles. 

 

Memorial services are scheduled for December 27th at 10am at Zion Lutheran Church. 2600 S Wadsworth Blvd, Denver, CO 80227.

In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Lustgarten Foundation.

 

 

 
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Wednesday, December 27, 2023

10:00 - 11:00 am (Mountain time)

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