Benja Louise Lightfoot Allen, 76, of Cedar Hill, Texas passed away on Tuesday, December 14, 2021. She was born on August 8, 1945 in Cleburne, Texas to William Exta and Lleta Prestridge Lightfoot. Benja’s mother’s family came to Texas in 1836, and her father’s family came in 1854. She considered herself a true daughter of Texas.
Benja grew up in Alvarado, Texas, graduating as valedictorian of the Alvarado High School Class of 1963. She attended Baylor University graduating with a BA degree in Biology in 1967. She then received a Master of Science degree in molecular biology and a Master of Education degree in counseling from the University of North Texas.
Benja taught high school Biology and worked in biomedical/biochemical research before joining El Centro College in Dallas where she was employed for 36 years. She was chosen Outstanding Teacher of the Year in 1996 and Outstanding Teacher of the Year for the District in 2006. In 2016, Benja was honored with the Minnie Piper Stevens Award recognizing outstanding academic, scientific, and scholarly achievement and for dedication to the teaching profession.
During her time at El Centro, Benja served on numerous district and college committees and chaired the compliance audit for the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges Commission, contributing to El Centro’s successful reaffirmation of accreditation in 2013. She also served as Faculty Association President for El Centro from 2000-2005. In 2005, Benja received the coveted Spirit of El Centro award, an honor given by her peers to one of their own for exemplary execution of duties, respect of the faculty, and being treasured by the students.
Benja married Billy Dale Allen in 1967, and they shared a beautiful life of 46 years together.
Benja was preceded in death by her husband Billy Allen and her parents. She is survived by her sister, Dora Gail Yawn and husband, Larry, of Round Rock, two beloved nephews, Keith and Mark Yawn of Austin, first cousins Jan Coleman and husband Keith of Kemp and Holly Hunt of Plano. Benja will be sincerely missed by her loving family, devoted colleagues, and scores of wonderful people who called her “friend.”