Fay Van Schoiack Bentley

By Steve Lent, Museum Historian

Zena Fay Sams was born on May 16, 1897 in Lynn Hollow, near Cottage Grove in Lane County, Oregon. She attended schools in the vicinity of Cottage Grove. She began teaching in Heppner, Oregon in 1919. Later in life she attended the University of Oregon and Oregon College of Education in Monmouth receiving a degree in 1949.

She taught school in Cottage Grove after leaving Heppner and in 1941 she came to Prineville to teach. She taught science in the Prineville school system and became widely known for her interest in astronomy. She had married a man named Van Schoiack but it was not a lasting relationship. She met Robert Bentley and they were married in Nevada on June 21, 1956. Robert was born in Baker, Oregon on Nov. 29, 1900. He had spent many years working s a traveling meat cutter. After their marriage they lived in Prineville.

Fay taught school in Prineville for the many years and was a popular instructor in science. She began writing weekly science articles for the Central Oregonian which continued for several years. She also wrote a history series for the Prineville Centennial. After her retirement from teaching she did private tutoring in her home for five years.

Fay was active in several local service organizations including the Soroptimists and the Pythian Sisters. In 1965 she was named Outstanding Woman of Central Oregon. Robert died on September 28, 1987. Fay continued living in Prineville after Robert’s death and remained active in her areas of interest. She passed away on September 8, 1992 while living at the Prineville Nursing Home.