Catherine Bridget Bender, known to her family as Sis, died on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023.
Catherine was born in Paterson in November of 1928 to the late Mary (Mearns) Howard and Michael Howard, originally of Kildare, Ireland. She enjoyed a happy and eventful childhood in West Paterson along with her sisters Mary Ulrich (Howard) and Julia Ann Howard and her brother, Michael Joseph Howard. All her siblings and in-laws, Jack Ulrich and Jean Howard, predeceased Catherine.
Baptized in Saint Mary’s Church in Paterson, Catherine was confirmed and married in Saint Bonaventure’s, also in Paterson, and was a proud graduate of Saint Bonaventure’s Schools (her St. Bon’s). She was a faithful parishioner of Our Lady Queen of Peace Church in Hewitt for almost six decades.
Retired from Bell Atlantic, now Verizon, in 1993, Catherine remained a supporter of the Association of BellTel Retirees.
Catherine learned her cooking, baking and sewing skills from her mother and beloved Aunt Nanny, the late Anne (Mearns) Nolan.
Skilled in many trades learned from her father, she mixed and poured the concrete for the sidewalks around her West Milford home much to the amazement of a neighbor, a skilled mason himself, who pronounced her work outstanding. Catherine noted that while he checked her progress carefully, he wasn’t hands-on.
She learned gardening of both flowers and vegetables from her parents and her beloved Aunt Anne (Mearns) Nolan and Uncle Peter Nolan. Her parents along with her aunt and uncle had a reverence for nature which she inherited and celebrated with special appreciation of birds, flowers and trees.
Catherine enjoyed her travels across the United States, including to the Grand Canyon, and to St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. Whether traveling locally or long-distance, Catherine enjoyed learning about people and places.
In recent years, her enjoyment of “The Amazing Race” television show continued to spark this interest.
Catherine’s dedication to her parents and family and a commitment to show love and support for family, friends and neighbors continued throughout her life and will remain an inspiration.
She is survived by her daughters Kathleen Mazza (Joseph Mazza), Patricia Bender, Joann Raleigh (William Raleigh) and Eileen Fajvan (George Fajvan); daughter-in-law Joanne Howard; and son, Michael Bender. Also surviving are her grandchildren, James Mazza (Stephanie Mazza), Melissa Seeley (Brian Seeley), Mary Howard, Janine Sampong (Kwaku Sampong), Colleen Raleigh, Kelly Raleigh and Bridget Fajvan; her great-grandchildren; and her niece, Maureen Duffy (Ulrich), and nephews, Robert Ulrich, Mark Howard, Kevin Howard and Brian Howard, their partners and spouses, and great-nieces and -nephews.
Catherine was predeceased by her son John Barry Howard and nephew Joseph Ulrich.
The family will receive visitors on Thursday, Jan. 26 from 10 to 11 a.m. followed by the funeral Mass at 11 a.m. at Our Lady Queen of Peace RC Church, 1911 Union Valley Road, Hewitt. The interment will follow at Immaculate Conception Cemetery in Franklin.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Our Lady Queen of Peace Food Pantry (please make your check payable to Our Lady Queen of Peace and note donation to the food pantry in memory of Catherine Bender in the check memo) at Our Lady Queen of Peace Church, 1907 Union Valley Road, Hewitt, NJ 07421 or to Strengthen Our Sisters, an organization dedicated to serving the most under-served and vulnerable population in northern New Jersey, www.strengthenoursisters.org/make-a-donation
Online condolences and directions at www.sticklesolteszfuneralhome.com