Benders named Flotilla king and queen

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 17, 2004

After returning from a short trip, Aline and Jud Bender were amazed to hear that they were selected as this year’s king and queen for the upcoming 2004 Lake St. John Flotilla on July 3.

The couple said they were surprised when they found out of the selection.

&uot;It surprised us, we’ll tell you that,&uot; Aline said. &uot;We weren’t expecting that.&uot;

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Anne Miller, their youngest daughter, had already rented a barge for the event before they were notified. &uot;That little stinker didn’t mention it at all to me,&uot; Aline joked.

The couple said they traveled to Texas with Anne a few weeks ago to visit their oldest daughter.

Aline mentioned that Anne had known about it for some time, but didn’t mention it. Gwen Webber of the Flotilla committee called them a few days later to deliver the news.

&uot;It means a lot to us,&uot; Aline said. &uot;I just

wasn’t even thinking about it.&uot;

The couple also said that Anne, who was just as excited about the news, had already begun decorating the boat and selecting costumes for the Benders.

The Flotilla is an annual event that takes place on July 2 and 3. The event begins with the Queens Ball on Friday night. The parade and blessing of the boats will begin on Saturday.

Participants in the event decorate their vessels and parade throughout the lake, competing for prizes in the following categories: Patriotic, Non-Patriotic, Small Craft award and also the coveted &uot;Lake St. John Flotilla Champion 2004&uot; Life Ring. Priests will also bless the boats as they begin their parade. The event also includes a pier decorating contest and other events. Prizes will be awarded from the deck at Spokane Marina and their will be public viewing from Spokane, Duck’s Nest II and The Dock.

Jud said he has lived on the lake for 64 years and Aline has been there for 55 years.

The Benders farmhouse, part of the Kilarney Plantation, was built in 1853. Jud’s father later purchased it in 1940 when Woody Judson Sr. moved his family from Marshall, Texas, to Ferriday, La. Woody Sr. and Jr. farmed the 781 acres for many years raising cotton, soybeans and cattle.

Jud graduated from Ferriday High School in 1943 and served in the Navy, the Pacific Theatre, during World War II.

Exchanging a pipe in Lee’s Drug Store in 1948, Jud realized that the 12-year-old girl, who was always late for the school bus he drove, had matured into a beautiful brunette beauty. Aline reminded him the reason she was always late for the bus was because her dad was the manager Pecania Plantation and, with eight brothers and one sister, she had to pack lunches, make beds and wash dishes before she went to school.

The couple married in 1949, honeymooned in Fort Worth, Texas, and have lived on the plantation ever since. In 1970, they moved into the house where they reside today.

Jud said he never tires looking at the lake, enjoys fishing and feels that Lake St. John is the only place he ever wanted to live.

Aline agreed that she loved to sit and fish and has instilled in her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren a work ethic and sense of values.

Both Jud and Aline have been supporters of the Flotilla since its humble beginnings 12 years ago and are thrilled and honored to serve as its king and queen.

The Flotilla festivities will start with the Queen’s Ball on Friday, July 2. The festivities will continue with the pier judging at noon and the boat judging at 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 3. For more information about the event, call Flotilla Chairman Donna Maroon at (318) 336-5245.