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Campus Life

Alumnus Albert Bender dies at age 103

UMW News Bureau

Albert Bender

University of Montana Western alumnus and award-winning educator Albert Bender died on Jan. 7, 2013 at his home in Miles City, Mont. He was 103.

Born near Friend, Neb. on Nov. 28, 1909, Bender moved to Montana at the age of four and eventually attended Western Montana College (now Montana Western), earning a bachelor’s degree in education in 1940 Bender went on to earn a master’s degree from Eastern Montana College in Billings, Mont. in addition to three summers of advanced study at Montana State University and two summers at the University of Montana.

Bender met Ethel Blanche Guthrie while studying at Western Montana College (WMC) in the summer of 1938, and the couple married on Aug. 23, 1941.

After earning his degrees, Bender began a long and distinguished career in education. He first taught fourth, fifth, sixth and eighth grades at his alma mater Antelope School outside of Sumatra, Mont. Bender taught his younger brother William at Antelope School, supported him through high school and even footed William’s college tuition. He also served for half of a year as superintendent of Sumatra schools.

Bender later served as the principal in Washoe, Mont. and taught grades seven and eight. He also coached basketball at Washoe. He was later a teacher and acting principal in Park City, Mont. and served as the principal of Laurel, Mont.’s North School.

Bender always wanted to live in Miles City and jumped at the opportunity to serve as the principal of Lincoln School for seven years. He then served as the principal of Lincoln and High Park schools the next two years and principal of Jefferson and Highland Park schools for one year.

An educational innovator, Bender taught and offered workshops on the Orton-Gillingham method, which uses alternative teaching methods for children who have difficulties learning in the traditional classroom format.

In 1977, WMC honored Bender as the Outstanding Educator of Montana. He gave Montana Western’s commencement address in 1995.

Bender is survived by numerous nieces and nephews and his caregiver Helen Steele. He was preceded in death by his brothers and sisters and his wife Ethel in 2007.

Condolences may be sent to the family at