The last page in the book of Craig has been written. As the sun rose on the morning of April 24, 2023, Craig said good bye to his earthly life and found peace. The daily struggles with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis are gone and now he can breathe. He said it was inevitable and was ready to go, but was sad to think of what he will be missing.
Craig Alan Benware was born on November 12, 1947 in Newport, Vermont, the son of Janet A. (Smith) & George J. Benware, Jr. He was the eldest of three, along with his sister Gail & brother Scott. Craig attended Eastside Elementary School and graduated from Kimball Union Academy. He attended Purdue University and graduated from Colorado State with a degree in dairy science. Craig had many occupations, including herdsman in Greeley, CO, a Vermont State Trooper, a plant manager at Golden Valley Foods and AFP (formerly Land O Lakes). He was a dairy farmer in Augusta, WI and a sheep farmer in Clear Lake, WI. Craig worked at Monarch Paving, Madeline Island State Park, Madeline Island Golf course and as a door greeter and slave laborer at Bergmann’s Greenhouse’s in Clayton, WI. “I work for food”. The job he was most proud of was serving as Polk County Sheriff from 1988 - 1996 where he served his people well.
In addition to his many jobs, Craig served on the Augusta School Board, the Health Fair 11 Board of Directors for 20 years, many years as the President. Craig Hotvedt said “Craig will be remembered as an advocate for rural health and a man that challenged you to think.” He also served on the Polk County Board of Supervisors and had active roles in area hockey as a player, fan and referee. Craig was instrumental in creating the Polk County 911 Emergency Response System, initiated the DARE program in Polk County, and actively worked with the Clear Lake Area EMT’s. He was also a member of the Clear Lake Lions Club and the Clear Lake Masonic lodge, attaining the level of 32nd Degree Mason.
Craig married Mary Ekstrom and together made their home in Clear Lake and raised 3 children, Kristen, Andrew & Gunnar. As the chapters of his book continued, Craig made a life with Ivanna Bergmann and did things he never thought he would. He spent many hours in his shop creating things for family and friends, turning wood into something, no matter how crude it became or appeared. Together, Craig and Ivanna cleared the land for their new home and all the out buildings in their village and created Crosses in the Woods Chapel and Barn Again Event Center. “Life should be fun !!” In 2014, the cabin on Madeline Island became his dream come true - it was a very special place.
Craig is preceded in death by his parents, George & Janet Benware; and brother, Scott Benware.
He is survived by Ivanna Bergmann;
Daughter & Sons - Kristi (Bill) Niles, Andy (Julie) Benware, & Gunnar Benware
Grandchildren - Montana, Drew, Kelli & Taryn Niles, Madeline & Grant Benware, and Reese, Charli & Marty Benware
Mother of his Children - Mary Benware
Sister - Gail (Robert) Proctor
Sister in Law - Diane Benware
Ivanna’s children & grandchildren
........and don’t forget Maddie his fat, furry, four legged friend
“Keep her fat so she doesn't run away.”
Many relatives, friends and colleagues have cherished memories of Craig that will live on.
The family thanks Dr. Fadi Sabbagh, Dr. Jennifer Radar and St. Croix Hospice for the their care and compassion shown to Craig.
Craig’s cremains will be spread over Madeline Island and at his home in Clayton.
Honorary Pallbearers - Andy Benware, Gunnar Benware, Bill Niles, Drew Niles,
Grant Benware, Robert Rasmussen, Steve Moe & Terry Nesvold
There will be a Celebration of Life at 2pm on Sunday, April 30, 2023 at Crosses in the Woods Chapel
(613 2nd Street – Co. Rd K) in Clayton, WI with a visitation there from 11 am – 2 pm.
Scheuermann-Hammer Funeral Home is handling the arrangements.
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