Elizabeth (Liz) Craciun-Bender, a 40+ year resident of Lee County passed away on June 6, 2019, at the age of 66, at her home in North Fort Myers, FL.
Liz is survived by her husband, Gary Bender, and sons Nicholas and Matthew Bender, brother Charles Craciun Jr., and sister Kimberly Craciun. She is predeceased by her father Charles Craciun Sr. and mother Carmen Craciun.
Liz was born in Detroit, Michigan. She graduated Wayne Memorial High School in 1970. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Work at Eastern Michigan University in 1974. Liz obtained a Master of Social Work in Social Casework at Wayne State University in Michigan in 1978. Upon graduation, she decided to relocate to Florida knowing that her parents were going to be retiring and moving to the Dominican Republic in the near future.
Liz found employment at Lee Mental Health Center (later known as Ruth Cooper Center for Behavioral Health Care) as a clinical social worker counseling adults. She joined the National Association of Social Workers, FL Chapter, in 1978 and became a LCSW after gaining a few years of work experience. She remained at Ruth Cooper Center for 19 years and halfway through her tenure, she switched to counseling children 0 – 8 years of age. In addition to meeting the clinical needs of her clients and families, Liz spearheaded the Parenting Program, Project Prevent, and the Redlands contracts. Because of her experience working with young children and National Head Start looking to add a mental health component to their program, she was recruited by the Lee County School District. Liz was responsible for developing and implementing the aforementioned facet of the program as their first Mental Health Specialist. Liz’s tenure with the Lee County School District spanned almost 21 years and she was a member of the Early Childhood Learning Services Team that supported Head Start, Early Head Start, and Pre-K students, their families, and teachers. Liz not only had a passion working with children, she was committed to supervising and mentoring staff over the years. Her nurturing spirit will always remain a part of who she was.
It was this nurturing spirit, commitment, compassion, and kindness that made her a great mother and wife.
Liz enjoyed going to concerts, plays, cooking, travelling, and boating. She was very fond of animals and was an avid reader. She was a loyal Tampa Bay and Detroit sports fan. She enjoyed going to baseball, hockey, and football games with family and friends. Liz was a religious person with a big heart who always tried to assist others. She will be deeply missed by everyone that she touched.
A memorial service is scheduled to start at 2:00 on July 20 (Saturday) at Hope Hospice. The address is 2430 Diplomat Pkwy E, Cape Coral, FL 33909. Rev. Dr. James Rankin McGougan will officiate. After the service, there will be light refreshments available. If you wish to send flowers, Hospice personnel can accept a flower delivery on July 19th or 20th. In lieu of flowers, a donation to the American Brain Tumor Association, www.abta.org, may be offered to continue research to find a cure for brain cancer.
Family and friends may sign the guest register and/or leave condolence messages at www.baldwincremation.com. Affordable Cremations by Baldwin Brothers.