Elizabeth Ann Benham (Stewart)

elizabeth-a-benham-stewart-obit-picElizabeth Ann Benham, of Friendswood, Texas, passed away on December 27, 2016 at age 59. Elizabeth was born July 7, 1957 in San Antonio, Texas to parents Durward Sr. and Mary Elizabeth Benham. Elizabeth had one older brother, Durward Jr. In 1964, the family moved to a farm near Lovington, New Mexico. Elizabeth enjoyed the change from city to farm life, helping with chores, riding her pony Fancy and playing with the family dog Butch.

Elizabeth was an honor student at Lovington High School, active in band, editor of the school newspaper and participated in several organizations where she held leadership positions. She decided to follow her brother in engineering and graduated from New Mexico State University in 1979 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in chemical engineering. Elizabeth was employed by Phillips Petroleum as a summer student at the Copolymer Plant in Borger, Texas for two years before graduating. After graduation she began what would be a highly successful and accomplished thirty seven year career with Phillips Petroleum and Chevron Phillips. Elizabeth began her career in 1980 as a Research and Development Engineer at the Bartlesville, Oklahoma Polyolefin Pilot Plant. Elizabeth spent twelve years as the Polyolefin unit engineer advancing to Senior Research Engineer. In 1990, Elizabeth was selected by the National Society of Professional Engineers as Young Engineer of the year for both Bartlesville and the state of Oklahoma. Elizabeth spent four years in Licensing followed by five years as the Polyolefins Pilot Plant Manager, which was her personal goal and dream job.

During her time as Research Engineer and Pilot Plant Manager, Elizabeth invented two strategic manufacturing processes that were previously thought to be impossible. In 1996, Elizabeth’s efforts were recognized by R&D Magazine’s 100 Best New Products of 1996. Elizabeth received a Phillips Petroleum Company Innovation Award in 1996 and a Technical Achievement Award in 1997. Elizabeth was named Hero of Chemistry by the American Chemical Society in 1997. While Pilot Plant Manager, Elizabeth continued her education. In May 2000, Elizabeth earned a Master of Science Degree in Engineering and Technology Management from Oklahoma State University with Highest Honors. In 2000, following the merger of Chevron and Philips, Elizabeth transferred to the Kingwood, Texas Engineering Services as Engineering Fellow leading a wide range of projects for the past sixteen years. Elizabeth was recognized by Who’s Who in Science in Engineering for 2000-2001. During her career, she enjoyed the opportunity to travel the globe. Elizabeth continued to innovate over her entire career and was granted 150 United States Patents (and counting) and published numerous technical papers. Elizabeth was a Registered Professional Engineer and member of the National Society of Professional Engineers, American Institute of Chemical Engineers and The Society of Women Engineers.

Elizabeth enjoyed summer vacations with the family that spanned the entire United States. She loved to sew and was an avid quilter. She also enjoyed attending the theater, opera, Houston Astros and Houston Rockets games.

Elizabeth and John Dale Stewart were married on March 29, 2014. They first met in their early days at Phillips Petroleum. In addition to their busy careers at Chevron Philips, they loved to travel, visit family and pursue their many common interests.

Survivors include her husband, John D. Stewart; brother, Durward Benham Jr. and his wife Barbara; niece, Christine Benham Schwindt and her husband Geoffrey; and nephew, Durward Benham III.

Services will be held on Saturday, January 7, 2017 at Mountain View Funeral Home and Cemetery, 7900 East Main Street, Mesa, AZ 85207. Visitation will begin at 9:00am, and the funeral service will begin at 10:00am.

Contributions can be made in Elizabeth’s memory to the Judy’s Mission® to end ovarian cancer at judysmission.org

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