NEW BERN - The funeral for former New Bern Mayor, 86-year-old Ella Bengel, was held Friday morning at Tabernacle Baptist Church in New Bern. Burial followed at the New Bern Memorial Cemetery.
Bengel died unexpectedly of a heart attack on Christmas Day. At her visitation Thursday, family and friends remembered Bengel as a pioneer, becoming the first and still only female mayor of New Bern.
"I really think she was a pioneer. That word keeps coming back to me time and time again. She was a pioneer. She came and rose through the ranks of leadership at a time when women stayed at home," said Bengel's daughter-in-law and current New Bern City Alderman, Sabrina Bengel. "She felt a great need and desire to first serve God and then to serve her city, and she did that. She laid the groundwork for so many of us."
Bengel served as mayor of New Bern from 1985-1989. Previously, Bengel served as Alderman for the 5th Ward for four two-year terms. She is survived by four children, 11 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, family members are asking memorial contributions be made to the New Bern Firemen's Museum located in the 400 block of Hancock Street.