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Remembering an East Texas legend: Mrs. Johnnie Bendy


She was very popular; nearly everyone in town had at least heard of her. Today East Texans are remembering Johnnie Bendy, best known for her years of teaching in Mineola.

Johnnie Bendy passed away this morning at the age of 94.

"I've had a good life, because I like people, and I've, the Lord has just blessed me, to understand all people," Johnnie Bendy said in an interview with Joan Hallmark in 2009.

The town of Mineola was abuzz today as news spread that a local legend had died.

"Everybody knew her, everybody came by her house every day," Virgil George, a former neighbor of Ms. Bendy's, said.

We first met Ms. Bendy in 2009 in our Proud of East Texas report. Ms. Bendy, as she was known around Mineola, spent 38 years teaching school. Of those, 20 were spent under a segregated school system.

Don Phillips was the Principal at Mineola Elementary when Ms. Bendy was a librarian.

"She was just a good person to be around and a good person to have on your side, a good person to help you when you needed something done," Phillips said.

She has been recognized locally and nationally as a distinguished teacher.

"She contributed to a lot of different things in the town," Phillips said.

Most notably, the Mineola Nature Preserve, which she helped develop. She was also a devout Christian who worshipped at the Muddy Creek Baptist Church.

"A lady, pretty much says it all, she was a lady," Phillips said.

Classy, inspiring, funny; all words used to describe her.

"She was real nice; I loved her so much," George said.

Volunteer of the Year and Woman of the Year are just a few more titles Mineola's favorite teacher held.

As word spread farther and wider, there were a few tears, but smiles were plentiful.

"I'm proud to have known her, proud to have called her a friend," Phillips said.

Most were just grateful to have known such a historic figure in this community.

According to a friend, Ms. Bendy's mind was as sharp as ever to the very end and so was her sense of humor. She passed away from congestive heart failure. No funeral plans have been set as yet, but all will be done through Beaty Funeral Home in Mineola.

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