LaVera Bennett Radcliff

March 11, 1926November 1, 2012

LaVera Bennett Radcliff passed from this life on November 1, 2012 surrounded by her children and caregivers in Fort Smith, Arkansas. She was born in Topeka, Kansas on March 11, 1926 to the parents of Charles Russell Bennett and Emma Belle Bennett.

LaVera attended Northwestern University and graduated from Washburn University in Topeka in 1946 with a bachelor’s degree in music and was a member of Zeta Tau Alpha Sorority. She was joined in marriage to Melvin Harrison in June of 1947 at Grace Cathedral in Topeka, Kansas.

Her life was dedicated to her children and husband as a homemaker. The family moved to Fort Smith in 1959 and Melvin opened Radcliff Volkswagen on Midland Avenue. She was a member of St. John’s Episcopal Church where she directed the girls’ choir and participated in the Altar Guild. She was a volunteer with the March of Dimes, National Cancer Society, Girl Scouts of America and Boy Scouts of America. She also served as president of the Women’s Golf Association at Hardscrabble Country Club.

In LaVera’s spare time she excelled in duplicate bridge, knitting, sewing, crocheting, and antique restoration. She was a true lover of animals and spent much time with plants and gardening.

She is preceded in death by her husband Melvin H. Radcliff who passed in June 2002. She is survived by her sons Melvin Kent Radcliff of Fort Smith, Mark Harrison Radcliff of Tulsa, Oklahoma, daughter, Christine Bennett Anderson of Fairfield, California, and grandchildren Sean Christopher Anderson of San Francisco, California and Amanda Radcliff Anderson of Boston, Massachusetts.

The family would like to extend special thanks to Mark Berg who dedicated his enduring support to the last years of LaVera’s life.

Visitation will be held at Fentress Mortuary on Sunday, November 4th from 6:00 to 8:00 P.M. and services will be held at St. John’s Episcopal Church at 10:00 A.M., Monday, November 5th. Interment will be at Mount Hope Cemetery in Topeka, Kansas on Tuesday, November 6th at 11:00 A.M.

In addition to flowers, memorials may be made to The Good Samaritan Clinic 615 North “B” Street Fort Smith, Arkansas or to St. John’s Episcopal Church 214 North 6th Street Fort Smith, Arkansas 72901 (write “Sack Lunch” on memo line of check).

Pallbearers will be Mark Harrison Radcliff, Sean Christopher Anderson, Gary A. Anderson, Mark Allen Berg, John Henke, Larry Bedell. Honorary pallbearers will be Jeff Henke, Nathan Meyers, and Larry Jones.


  • Visitation Sunday, November 4, 2012
  • Funeral Service Monday, November 5, 2012

LaVera Bennett Radcliff

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Shelley (Schoonover) Stump

November 6, 2012

Oh my...Such wonderful memories this photo brings to me; always happy, laughing, and so very kind. Although not "blood" relatives, Aunt LaVera and Uncle Mel were always family to me. My heartfelt condolences to her children, grandchildren, and many friends.

Jeff (J.P.) Henke

November 2, 2012

I will never forget my Aunt LaVera. I was always the youngest cousin and truly believe her favorite least she always made me feel that way. I bet she made everyone else feel the same...I remember getting so excited as a kid, when Mom told me we were going to visit my Uncle Mel and Aunt LaVera. It was always a fun adventure and couldn't wait to hear new stories. LaVera actually had me believing for years that she could talk to her animals (Sweetie Pie, Pepper and Pantha) "J.P. watch them count and say their ABC's" I thought she was nuts, but cool.
Now that she has renunited with Mom, Fran and Mel...there is one heck of a party going on now that the Grand Hostess has arrived.
I will always love you Aunt LaVera...thanks for all the memories and making feel so special!