Ed Bentley was 99 years old and it was a magnificent life he lived—a true servant of Christ. We first met him in Papua New Guinea in the “old days”, when it was The Territory of New Guinea and Papua. He and his wife Laurel had come from Australia, where Ed had served, as I remember, as a chaplain in the army.
Ed was an artist and worked in the print shop during the week, but on Sundays he was across the Ba’e River to play his violin and help out at the Ukarumpa village Gadsup church. He did that for years. He had a heart that enjoyed helping others.
We have a painting hanging in our bedroom that Ed did for us. It is a picture of the main building at the Wycliffe Kangaroo Ground Center, complete with gum trees and two magpies in the foreground. It is a water color image of the place where we worked for three years. I often look at it and am reminded of our years there and of Ed.
Not far up the road from the center is a little Presbyterian Church, a small dignified building, where we once attended. We have a painting of it that Ed made.
In his earlier days at Ukarumpa, Ed would play tennis and I can remember playing with and against him at a function at the Aiyura agricultural station. He was the perfect picture of the Aussie tennis player: white shorts and shirt, white knee socks and white tennis shoes. And he was good, although a bit sneaky with his short soft hits.
Ed would sometimes accompany Phil Staalsen in skits—Phil droning on with some obscure pseudo-philosophical meanderings and Ed sawing away on his violin in the background. We all enjoyed it immensely.
Our grandson Sam has artistic talent and he was mentored by Ed. Sundays, immediately after church, Ed and Sam were together, he and Sam going over some painting styles and tips. Sam is also a great painter now and much of his interest and technique are because of Ed’s help.
When we were teaching at the Australian linguistic school at Kangaroo Ground we visited Ed and Laurel in their retirement setting at Judge Book in Eltham. He was helping as an unofficial chaplain. We also met them when we visited Kangaroo Ground—the last time was in 2010. Ed prayed with us. We weren’t surprised—that is the kind of man he was.
Karl and Joice Franklin
October 16, Waco, Texas