A memorial service this weekend for the estranged former wife of Burning Man Project Director Christopher Bently was attended by more than 300 people. From the Minden-Gardnerville/Carson Valley Record Courier:
Bently spoke lovingly of his wife, and acknowledged her bouts with mental illness in the past few years.
“Amber was the most incredible person I every met,” he said. “She was my soul mate. Illness took her from me, but she battled and persisted through all of it.”
Bently said he learned his most valuable life lessons from Amber.
The death is under investigation, although it is not being treated as suspicious.
Authorities said Amber Marie Bently’s body was discovered July 19 by a process server who went to deliver an eviction notice. No one had reported her missing and it appeared that she had been dead for several weeks, Douglas County sheriff’s Sgt. Pat Brooks said…there was no evidence of criminal activity or foul play. An autopsy didn’t pinpoint a cause of death and toxicology reports are pending — a process that could take six to eight weeks.
Deputies described Ms. Bently as Christopher Bently’s estranged wife and said she lived alone in the apartment in Gardnerville, a town of about 6,000 located 16 miles south of Carson City. The couple was married for at least 10 years, according to published reports. It’s unknown whether they had divorced.
Members of the deceased’s family have come out publicly describing the late Mrs Bently as suffering from bipolar disorder, before she passed away they had her committed twice to mental institutions, her mother was attempting to establish a guardianship over her estate.
There were, in fact, missing person reports filed on her. She had a severe mental illness and was resistant to treatment for years. She had been trying to evade family members for months due to her delusions. She had been committed by her family twice. If the blame lies anywhere, it’s in the mental health system, for releasing a person who has a history of self destructive and dangerous behavior. Her family was pursuing a guardianship and had private investigators looking for her. I know her personally and she was a lovely person and her presence was infectious. She was truly one-of-a-kind and the very thing that made her amazing was also her downfall…
…She had a terrible illness that has claimed many lives. I will not let the general consensus be that she was uncared for, however, because she very much was. Her mother lived and breathed for the hope of this guardianship. She was consumed with worry about where her daughter might be. We witnessed it first hand, and saw the truth. I am HER family member, not her husband’s, so obviously my support would lie with her, and it does. It makes me sad that someone who has cared for her and loved her for so very long is being suspected of doing something terrible to hurt her. He did the best he could with the cards he was dealt.
In other coverage, Mr Bently acknowledged that the divorce had not yet been finalized. Although Mr Bently spoke lovingly of his wife at the service, they have been separated since 2012. Mr Bently’s father passed away late last year, after a long and succcessful career in which he created a company with more than 2000 people, in partnership with GE Energy.
Christopher Bently heads several companies founded by his late father, Donald Bently, an engineer, philanthropist and businessman who died in October at the age of 87.
The elder Bently founded Bently Scientific Company in the garage of his Berkeley, Calif., home in 1956. He renamed it Bently Nevada Corp. and moved it to Minden in 1961. By the time he sold that company to GE Energy in 2002, the company had 2,000 employees worldwide and offices in 42 counties.
There has been Internet speculation that Mr Bently now lives in the United Kingdom with another woman. A commenter called Smith said this on our web site:
Enlighten us. Are you saying Chris didn’t have a judgment against him for domestic violence? Well, he did. Are you saying the money wasn’t cut off, despite her being evicted for nonpayment of rent twice in the last few months? Maybe, in your high and mighty way, despite not offering any refuting facts, you contend with the statement that Chris was halfway across the world with his new girl, who is coincidentally the new director of the new entity “Bently Foundation”? Well, he issued a statement on Amber’s death from London. Maybe you never say anybody else she made miserable. Well, bipolar people make everybody miserable. Just walk around the tenderloin if you have any doubt.
Many comments on this case have been removed from SFGate, the web site of the San Francisco Chronicle, prompting one commenter to say:
Lot of postings got remove from this article … I’m guessing someone with connections called someone at the Chronicle to put on a muzzle on questions and speculation …. and to get this article off the front page …
Someone’s been hard at work trying to suppress the obvious questions from the postings … ask the wrong question, get deleted … it’s like speech suppression in Russia on SFGate …
At the service, the pastor referred the congregation of more than 300 family members and friends to the story of King Solomon, and said we may never be able to understand the meaning of her passing.
Borgman said it was human nature to seek meaning in Amber’s death.
“Grasping the purpose and meaning of life as mere mortals is a different story,” he said.
From the Scriptures, Borgman referenced King Solomon “who shows not every question is answered. He recognized that God is the beginning, middle and end, and that there is redemption in a life that doesn’t make sense very often.”
Borgman said faith and Scripture teach that life is not just a collection of random acts.
“There is meaning and purpose under One who says I am the Alpha and the Omega. It doesn’t mean that Amber’s death all of a sudden makes perfect sense. The comfort comes not in knowing the hows and whys. It comes in knowing the Who,” Borgman said.
Amber’s parents, her grandmother and her four siblings contributed memories of her to an obituary distributed at the memorial.
“She was taken from this life in June 2013 far too early for us,” her parents said. “However, the One who numbers our days and knows our thoughts from afar knew the right time for her to leave us.”
Her grandmother, Ruth Barnett, said, “She was always a ray of sunshine with a loving and caring spirit. Praise God for all the precious memories that will always be treasured.”
Her father thanked the congregation for its support.
“We want you to know we cherish your prayers and have been warmed by your hugs, and cards and calls. We thank the family of Grace Community. You have servants’ hearts.”
The family recalled her fondly:
Born to Mark and Sherry Barnett on June 20, 1979, Mrs. Bently graduated from Douglas High School in 1997.
She married Chris Bently on Sept. 9, 2001.
“Our family was raised in the foothills of the Pine Nut Mountains,” brother Abram Barnett said of his sister in her obituary. “We had very few neighbors, and even fewer children near us, so we relied on each other. Amber’s imagination and creativity could only be described as gifted. We spent hours amongst the sagebrush living as kings and queens; as swashbucklers and knights; or as scallywags and dragonslayers. She made our home come alive and gave us everlasting memories of a childhood well wasted on misbegotten adventures.”
Sister Ashley Touchin said Amber was everything a little sister could want.
“Amber was an amazing woman full of life and energy,” Touchin said. “She never let anything hold her back. She always wanted me to be ‘fabulous’ with her, and always had time to be fun and silly with me, and that is something I will never forget.”
Brother Aaron remembered her as a student and artist.
“I remember she was a model student, one who grew into a talented and aspiring artist drawing inspiration from the world around her,” he said. “I remember her on her wedding day, and how every bit of her childhood dreams culminated in that day, and I was struck by how happy she was. I can still see her smile, and how it lit up the room.”
Coworkers Brady Frey and Talitha Hillman said she was well-known for her support of conservationist causes.
“She was a much-admired businesswoman and philanthropist whose dedication to forwarding environmental conservation and sustainable style inspired her to create her own jewelry line and promote eco-friendly fashion.”
Mrs. Bently is survived by her husband Chris; parents Mark and Sherry Barnett; siblings Aaron, Arik, Abram and Ashley; grandparents Ruth Barnett, and Norm and Lou Short; sisters-in-law Amber and Linda Barnett; brother-in-law T.J. Touchin, several uncles, aunts, cousins, nieces and nephews.
In lieu of flowers, family members are asking that donations be made in her name to City of Refuge, P.O. Box 2663, Gardnerville, NV, 89410.