Carmen I. Bandak
September 24, 1924 – May 1, 2017
Carmen I. Bandak (née Bendeck), passed away peacefully at her home in Newark, DE, on Monday, May 1, 2017, at the age of 92.
Carmen was born on September 24, 1924 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti to the late Constantine and Mary Bendeck. She married Issa Bandak, a charming cabinetmaker from Bethlehem, Palestine on September 26, 1943. The couple lived in both Bethlehem and Amman, Jordan and welcomed four children into their home over the next 13 years. After moving to the United States in 1960, Carmen began working for the University of Delaware in Food Services where she was employed for more than 50 years.
As it turns out, Food Services was the perfect job for Carmen and it was one she loved dearly. Feeding people was Carmen’s “love language.” She made many lifelong friends through her job, from students to staff and faculty. If you came through her line at the dining hall and seemed the least bit homesick, chances are you ate a meal or two at her table. One would rarely leave her home without a full belly and a tupperware of leftovers for later—if she couldn’t be with you, at least she knew you were going to eat. Although Arabic food was her specialty, she perfected other dishes too: chili, macaroni and cheese, spaghetti and meatballs—comfort foods. That’s who she was to so many people—comfort. She provided a home base for people (and even the occasional stray cat), offering love and care through nourishment.
Carmen was also the constant caretaker and companion for her daughter, Lily Bandak, who lives with multiple sclerosis. Carmen tirelessly and selflessly tended to Lily’s needs for more than 30 years from morning until night, ensuring that Lily never needlessly suffered. She worked diligently to provide Lily with the highest quality of life possible, including traveling extensively with Lily, who continued to work as a photographer and disability advocate as her disease progressed. Even as Carmen’s own Alzheimer’s progressed, she never forgot Lily and worried for her daily. Carmen’s dedication was the perfect example of a Mother’s love.
Carmen was the embodiment of doing “small things with great love,” and if you were around her, you felt it. She took great interest in people she met and always kept a sense of humility, wonder and humor her entire life. Her youthful and effervescent laugh endured until her final days and even in spite of Alzheimer’s having taken so much. She was truly an example of a life well lived and will be dearly missed and warmly remembered by all who love her.
In addition to her parents, Carmen was preceded in death by her husband, Issa, and four siblings, Abraham, Zagloul, Elias and Adele. She is survived by her four children, Sami (Maja), Lillian Bandak, Diana Bandak, and George Bandak; grandchildren Michal, Issa (Jessica), Niklas (Kelly), Lisa (Mike) and Patrik; great grandchildren Emma, Eli, Taitum, Ethan and Emmeline; sister Blanca of Chicago, IL; sister-in-law Janice Bedeck; as well as numerous dearly beloved nieces and nephews.
The family would like to thank the numerous caregivers who supported our family through the end of Carmen’s life.
A visitation for family and friends will be held from 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. on Friday afternoon, May 5, 2017 at the First Presbyterian Church of Newark, 292 W. Main Street, Newark, DE, where a funeral service will begin at 2:00 p.m. Interment will follow in Head of Christiana Cemetery, Nottingham Road, Newark, DE. A celebration of life reception will follow the interment.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Meals on Wheels, 100 W. 10th St, #207, Wilmington, DE 19801.