The Rev. Fred T. Bender, 90, was St. Stephens' rector in 1980s

The Rev. Fred T. Bender
The Rev. Fred T. Bender

Word has been received that the Rev. Frederick Tuttle Bender, a former rector of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, died on Nov. 9 at Windsor Point, Fuquay-Varina, N.C. He was 90 years old.

Mr.. Bender was born in Newark, N.J. on April 6, 1923 to Lester Frederick Bender and Lois Elizabeth Tuttle. While in high school, he attended the Summit School of Music which provided the training for his lifelong career in music and the ministry.

He married his childhood sweetheart, Grace Mountford Betts. During World War II in Victoria, Texas, Mr. Bender served in the U.S. Army Air Corps as a flight instructor.

After the war, he and Grace returned to Nutley, N.J. where he worked as organist and choir director. He also taught music at the Carteret School for Boys in Carteret, N.J. and later served as organist and choir director at the Cathedral Church of the Nativity in Newark, N.J.

In 1955, Mr. Bender attended the General Theological Seminary. He was ordained an Episcopal minister and served as rector at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Palmerton, Pa., Grace Church in Allentown, Pa., and Director of the Order of St. Ann’s Bethany, a residential center for handicapped women in Lincoln, Mass..

His later years in the ministry took place in Connecticut where he held the position of director of music and education at St. Luke’s in Darien and rector at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Ridgefield from 1981 to 1988.

He and his wife retired to Center Tuftonboro, N.H., where they enjoyed friends, family, boating and were  members of the Clear Lakes Chorale. Mr. Bender served as a volunteer clergy and choirmaster at several churches in New Hampshire and later in North Carolina, after a move for the warmer climate. Mrs. Bender died in 2005.

He is survived by his four children: Joanne Growitz of Eagle, Idaho; Sarajane Diosi of Epping, N.H.; Robert Bender of Auburn, Maine; and Cynthia Scam of Monroe; and by 10 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

A service of thanksgiving for his life will be held at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Darien on Feb. 15 at 11 a.m. Memorial contributions may be made to the “St. Luke’s Parish – Friends of Music,” 1864 Post Road, Darien, CT 06820