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In memoriam: A tribute to atheist Carol Popet

Mark Benussi and Carol Popet

Mark Benussi, a Lifetime Member of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, wrote this in memory of his wife Carol Popet, who died on April 5, 2016. Mark, who sent a $1,000 gift in Carol’s memory, explains that he and Carol had not known about FFRF at the time of her death, but she was a committed atheist who would have joined. He became aware of FFRF after seeing Ron Reagan’s commercial on behalf of FFRF on MSNBC’s “Rachel Maddow Show.” He says, “every time I see that ad, I chuckle.”

By Mark Benussi

We met in the 1990s. I was in a collapsing marriage of 26 years and she had never been married. We struck up a friendship first, and later it bloomed. She was looking for plants and stuff for her garden. I had two nurseries, one in El Cajon and one in Escobido. (I have been in the landscape and nursery industry for over 40 years.) It amazed me to see her making a garden. 

We got together and she was the love of my life. We married in 2006. I had always thought of myself as being an agnostic, while she was an atheist. After her death, I re-examined my beliefs (or lack of any) and was able to determine that I am really an atheist. 

We would visit various nurseries and would buy as we saw fit. Our garden has been in five national tours and a number of women’s clubs. The last tour was the “holy grail” of garden tours, “The Grand Conservancy.” It publishes a book every year of the gardens and states to which they belong. It occasioned a great honor to be included.

Below is a description from the book of our garden in Fallbrook:

“We made our downward sloping one-acre wild garden look much larger than it really is by the clever planting of more than 200 trees and bamboos beneath which a huge variety of shrubs, vines and ground covers grow. We enjoy walking along nearly 1,000 feet of meandering vines, which are dotted with eye-catching metal animal sculptures and blooming perennials year-round. Along the way we have added garden structures, dry creeks, wine bottle walkways, a redwood-and-glass greenhouse, and a rustic waterlily pond with a waterfall, together with many scattered seating areas where we relax in a secluded and serene setting and watch our three Airedale terriers play.”