New Bern's Only Woman Mayor, Ella Bengel, Laid To Rest

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The funeral for a well known former New Bern Mayor was Friday after she died Christmas day. 86 year old Ella Bengel died of a heart attack.

Ella Bengel was the only woman mayor ever to serve New Bern and she was described at her funeral as a pioneer for all women in the community.

86 year old Ella Bengel was a two-term mayor in New Bern during the 80's as well as a leader in the city for many years. Bengel was an honorary member of the New Bern Fire department and a city fire truck bears her name along the side.

Bengel's funeral Friday was a celebration of her life according to the pastor. Her daughter-in-law says if you had to describe Ella in one word it would be: pioneer.

"To know New Bern is to know Ella. To know her family is to know Ella. So she was dearly, dearly loved, highly thought of, and highly respected." said family member Edna Kilborn.

Ella received many awards during her life but the one her family says she was most proud of was the Woman Of The Year award in 1976.

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The City of New Bern announced Wednesday afternoon the only woman to ever lead the city had died of a sudden heart attack.

86-year-old Ella Bengel was originally from Trenton in neighboring Jones County. Bengel represented Ward Five for 10 years as an alderman, elected in 1973 at the age of 47.

In 2010, as the City of New Bern celebrated it's 300th year, Governor Beverly Perdue recognized former Mayor Bengel’s service and presented her with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine award.

"Mrs. Bengel’s daughter-in-law is current first-term alderman Sabrina Bengel, who represents ward one," said city spokeswoman, Colleen Roberts. "New Bern marks the death of Mayor Bengel by flying flags at city buildings at half-staff."

Services for Mayor Bengel will be held on Friday, December 28th at 11AM at Tabernacle Baptist Church. Visitation for family and friends will be held on Thursday, December 27th from 6-8PM at Cotton Funeral Home. Burial will follow at New Bern Memorial Cemetery located on Chelsea Road.