John Edward Bense & Patricia Halvey

John Edward Bense Photo of John Edward Bense.Undated portrait of John Edward Bense. (who went by “Edward” or “Ed”) was born on January 20, 1925 in Philadelphia to parents John Edward Bense Sr. and Nora Agnes Rowley. Edward grew up in the Fairhill section of North Philadelphia, where the 1930 US census lists him at 3043 North Hope Street with his parents, his younger brother Thomas Robert (“Bob”), and his mother’s siblings, Vera and Joe. He might have attended school at St. Cecelia’s, a Catholic church and school at 300 East Lehigh Avenue (now called Visitation BVM).

When Edward was born, his father was working for a well-known jeweler in Philadelphia, but the Great Depression hit the family hard. According to Edward’s son Richard, young Edward and his father participated in a bank run sometime in the early 1930s; it is conceivable that the family lost everything. Edward’s father was forced to switch careers sometime after April 1930, eventually getting a job at the US Mint. Edward’s uncle Joe also left home to join the Civilian Conservation Corps.

In 1942, the family moved to 5218 North American Street in the Olney section of North Philadelphia. Edward was probably attending high school at the time.

Edward registered for the World War II draft on January 20, 1943, his eighteenth birthday. He was officially enlisted in the US Navy that June, and his name appears on the muster roll of the USS Flaherty, a destroyer escort, when it left from Charleston, South Carolina on August 28, 1943.

The Flaherty escorted naval supply convoys across the Atlantic until March 1944, when it joined an anti-submarine “hunter-killer” group that had been formed around the aircraft carrier USS Guadalcanal. On April 9, 1944, ships in this group fired on and eventually sank the German submarine U-515, and on June 4, 1944, they were responsible for the capture of U-505. After leaving this group, the Flaherty was reassigned to training in the Caribbean and then to Naval Station Argentia in Newfoundland, where it was based when it was involved in the sinking of another submarine, U-546, on April 24, 1945.

Edward appears on the Flaherty’s muster rolls consistently during this time. At some point between July and September 1944 he was promoted from Seaman, Second Class (“S2c”) to Seaman, First Class (“S1c”), and before July 1945, he became Fire Controlman, Third Class (“FC3c”). Some muster rolls also append a “(T)” to his rank, indicating he was training others on some voyages. He was discharged on March 2, 1946.

Patricia Mary Halvey and her twin brother Robert Shields Halvey were born on October 13, 1917 in Philadelphia to Brendan Hynes Halvey, an oil salesman, and his wife, Marie Knight Shields. According to the 1920 census, they lived at 109 West Mount Airy Avenue in the Mount Airy neighborhood of Northwest Philadelphia. She might have attended Holy Cross School, a Catholic school run by the Sisters of St. Joseph at 144 East Mount Airy Avenue. Later on she would attend the Academy of Notre Dame at Rittenhouse Square. Before 1930, the family moved to 519 Willow Avenue I’m unsure of this house’s exact location. in Elkins Park, just outside of the city.

The Great Depression was also unkind to Patricia’s family. Sometime in the 1930s, her father lost his job selling oil and gasoline, and he eventually became a janitor and superintendent at Little Flower High School, a Catholic high school for girls in North Philadelphia. By 1940, the Halveys were living at 5323 North 13th Street in North Philadelphia. Patricia’s mother died in 1942, and her brother Richard was killed while in North Africa with the US Army in 1943. Patricia’s oldest son would later be named Richard, after her brother. By 1948, the family was living at 5909 North Marvine Street in the Fern Rock neighborhood of Philadelphia.

Edward and Patricia Photo of Patricia Halvey in 1942.Portrait of Patricia Halvey in January 1942. probably met sometime after the war. They married in Philadelphia on May 28, 1949 when Edward was 24 and Patricia was 32. They had five children.

Soon after their wedding, Edward and Patricia moved into a home at 825 Passmore Street in Northeast Philadelphia. Edward became a captain in the Philadelphia Fire Department before retiring.

Before 1990, Edward and Patricia moved to 1231 Glenbrook Road in Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania, where Patricia died on February 9, 1999 at the age of 81 after suffering from a respiratory illness.

After his wife’s death, Edward married fellow retiree Joan Moran Schroth and moved to a retirement community in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania. He died on July 22, 2005 at Holy Redeemer Hospital in Meadowbrook, Pennsylvania after suffering from cancer. He was 80.

Both are buried in Holy Cross Cemetery in Yeadon, Pennsylvania.

Further reading

John Edward Bense’s and Patricia Halvey’s entries on my Ancestry.com tree (requires a subscription). A few additional sources (including many Navy muster rolls) are visible here.

John Edward Bense’s and Patricia Halvey’s pages on FamilySearch (requires a free account).

Sources

“United States Census, 1920,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MF18-VZB : accessed 5 October 2020), Patricia M Halvey in household of Brendan H Halvey, Philadelphia Ward 22, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States; citing ED 622, sheet 7A, line 34, family 177, NARA microfilm publication T625 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1992), roll 1624; FHL microfilm 1,821,624.

“United States Census, 1930,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XHC1-8QC : accessed 5 October 2020), Patricia M Halvey in household of Brendon H Halvey, Cheltenham, Montgomery, Pennsylvania, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 24, sheet 22B, line 84, family 522, NARA microfilm publication T626 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2002), roll 2081; FHL microfilm 2,341,815.

“United States Census, 1930,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XHWD-6XD : accessed 1 October 2020), John E Bense Jr. in household of John E Bense, Philadelphia (Districts 0751-1000), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 968, sheet 16A, line 1, family 269, NARA microfilm publication T626 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2002), roll 2118; FHL microfilm 2,341,852.

“United States Census, 1940,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KQ48-NWP : 7 January 2021), John E Bense in household of John E Bense, Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 51-1080, sheet 10B, line 59, family 204, Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940, NARA digital publication T627. Records of the Bureau of the Census, 1790–2007, RG 29. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2012, roll 3722.

“United States Census, 1940,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KQJG-SKW : 28 January 2020), Patricia Halvey in household of Brendanh Halvey, Ward 49, Philadelphia, Philadelphia City, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 51-2125, sheet 6B, line 71, family 128, Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940, NARA digital publication T627. Records of the Bureau of the Census, 1790–2007, RG 29. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2012, roll 3752.

Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940–1947 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Original data: The National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for Pennsylvania, 10/16/1940–03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 160. Name Range: Bennett, Willie–Benson, Arnold. Link (requires subscription)

Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Navy Muster Rolls, 1938–1949 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2011. Original data: Muster Rolls of U.S. Navy Ships, Stations, and Other Naval Activities, 01/01/1939–01/01/1949; A-1 Entry 135, 10230 rolls, ARC ID: 594996. Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel, Record Group Number 24. National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD. Link (requires subscription)

“Flaherty (DE-135).” Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, Naval History and Heritage Command, US Navy, 8 July 2015. Link

Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, World War II Veteran Compensation Application Files, 1950–1966 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015. Original data: Pennsylvania (State). World War II Veterans Compensation Applications, circa 1950s. Records of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, Record Group 19, Series 19.92 (877 cartons). Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Link (requires subscription)

Engagement announcement, A PDF of a clipping is viewable here. The Philadelphia Inquirer, October 20, 1948; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.

Obituary of Patricia H. Bense; A PDF of a clipping is viewable here. The Philadelphia Inquirer, February 11, 1999; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.

Obituary of John Edward Bense; A PDF of a clipping is viewable here. The Philadelphia Inquirer, July 24, 2005; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.