by Terri Gorney
ACRES Summer 2013 Quarterly
Lloyd W. Bender felt strongly about the need to conserve our natural resources and wildlife for future generations to enjoy. Itht was through his generosity that ACRES acquired its second nature preserve in Noble County.
In November 1965, Bob Weber wrote a letter to Lloyd on behalf of ACRES that led to the beginning of this preserve. The young land trust was seeking someone to "actively pursue acquisitions" and thought Lloyd might be able to help with this endeavor. Lloyd quickly replied, asking if ACRES would "consider helping me preserve part of my woodland." Less than a year later, the first 60 acres were donated. A few years later, in order to include his remaining woods which lie on either side of the winding Elkhart River, he gave an additional 50 acres. After Lloyd's death in 1979, Bob continued to update the species list on this property.
The preserve contains a sedge meadow, an upland forest, a wetland forest and an area of forested floodplain of the Elkhart River called "The Spreads." Trees of note are burr oaks, white oaks, hickories, swamp white oaks, red elms, black willows, and green and black ash. The preserve is especially pretty in spring with wildflowers on the forest floor.
Lloyd was born to William and Ella (Smith) Bender in Williams County, Ohio, on May 24, 1900. At a young age, he moved to Noble County, Indiana. Lloyd was a jack-of-all-trades, a teacher, storekeeper, and railroader. Yet all who visit Bender Memorial Forest will remember him for his deep love for and appreciation of the land. He especially loved trees. Lloyd was also a dedicated historian He was president of the Noble County Historical Society from 1965 - 1972. He led the campaign to use the old Albion Jail for a museum and helped save the old York Center School.
Lloyd met and married his second wife, Nellie Grace Barkley Schlemmer, at Strawberry Valley Nursing Home in Ligonier where they were both recovering from illnesses. After a short time, they moved to his 106 acre farm. In his last years, he was confined to a wheelchair with complications from the 1918 influenza epidemic.
Nellie, a retired schoolteacher, wrote poetry. In 1980, ACRES published a book of her poems that included "Autumn." This poem seems especially fitting for the Bender Memorial Forest in both its descriptions and the fact that the Bender preserve was dedicated October 15, 1966.
Autumn is like a Gypsy
Dancing and nodding her head
With gay scarf flying around her
Bright orange, yellow and red.
Her glances may freeze or warm you
All nature by this queen is led.
Her couriers follow with blankets
For she puts all green things to bed.
A 1-mile loop trail leads one through the south part of 116 acres gifted in 1966 by Lloyd W. Bender.