More than 300 friends and family members gathered Saturday in a faith-filled church to celebrate the life of Amber Marie Bently, and remember the girl who grew up in Carson Valley before her dreams carried her to San Francisco.
Pastor Brian Borgman and Grace Community Church members offered Scripture and song to comfort Amber’s parents, Mark and Sherry Barnett, and her husband, Christopher Bently.
Amber’s body was discovered July 19 in her Gardnerville apartment. The cause of death is under investigation. She was 34.
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.
“I would have done anything to keep her with us, but it was not meant to be. She was not happy in her final days, but she is at peace now,” he said.
He read from a poem in which he called her “the brightest star in the galaxies. You burned too fast, for the world could not keep up.”
She moved to San Francisco in 1999 when she was 20, and married Bently two years later. He is the son of Minden businessman Don Bently who died in October 2012.
Amber and Christopher founded Bently Holdings, a San Francisco-based property management company dedicated to sustainable building practices.
Amber created her own line of jewelry and was active with her husband in philanthropic causes.
Friends referred to her as “a San Francisco style icon who was often featured on the red carpet of the city’s galas.”
The Bentlys were separated at the time of her death, and Amber had moved into a Gardnerville apartment in April.
At the time of her death, family members said she had refused all efforts to help her with her mental health issues.
Family friend Rich Lammay, whose daughter grew up with Amber, talked about her spirit and flair for the dramatic.
“When she was talking to you, you were the most important person there,” Lammay said.
He recalled a trip she made to San Francisco when she was in middle school.
“She told my daughter, ‘I am going to live there some day,’” he said. “My heart’s desire would be to turn the clock back, so we wouldn’t be here today, but I can’t.”
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.”
Donations in Amber’s name may be made to City of Refuge, P.O. Box 2663, Gardnerville, NV, 89410.