Marion R. Bench was one of the first Waves chosen at the start of World War II. The acronym stands for Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service, and Mrs. Bench was chosen to serve as assistant to Mildred McAfee, the first female commissioned officer in the Navy and the first director of the Waves.
Mrs. Bench died on Dec. 18, 2010, at the La Jolla Nursing Home in California. She was 99.
She was commissioned a lieutenant junior grade on Aug. 4, 1942, the day the legislation creating the Waves was passed. She participated in the choosing of the first 1,000 women to be sent to officer training schools. In 1943 she took over as liaison between the Bureau of Naval Personnel and Congress, the White House, and the secretary of the Navy in connection with appointments and assignments of male officers. She was discharged from the Navy at war’s end with a rank of lieutenant commander.
She was born Marion Mulligan in Larchmont, N.Y., and graduated from Manhattanville College with the class of 1933. Prior to the war, she was associated with the real estate management firm of Brown, Wheelock, Harris, Stevens in New York City.
In October of 1945, Mrs. Bench became administrative assistant to Norman Bel Geddes, a theatrical and industrial designer. She supervised the production of a photographic history of the battle of Midway for the Navy. She worked with Mr. Bel Geddes in decorating the LaRue restaurant in New York City and other upscale clubs.
She later managed the E.E. Brooke Placement Agency until 1949, when she became the office manager of the law firm of Chadbourne and Parke in New York City. She retired from that job in 1957.
Mrs. Bench lived in East Hampton for a time with her husband, Edward C. Bench, who predeceased her. Her brothers, Michael Robert Mulligan and Arthur Mulligan, also have died. Mr. and Mrs. Bench moved to San Diego in 1994 and lived at Wesley Palms in nearby Pacific Beach. Six years ago she moved to the La Jolla Nursing Home. She is survived by several nieces and nephews.
A funeral service was held on Jan. 19 at Sacred Heart Church in Ocean Beach, Calif. A memorial service was held on May 11 at the Water Mill Cemetery.