MY FATHER, BERT BENNETT – by Graham Bennett
As with most children, your image of your father is of a father, not in his accomplishments in business and community. As I am reminded reading again his obituary, he started early as a leader in high school, throughout his distinguished career at UNC as President of the Student Body and Chair of the Honor Council, and during his Navy career as Captain of an LST ship landing at Normandy. Returning home to start a long and successful career at Quality Oil Company while establishing himself in statewide politics, mentoring such leaders as Governor Terry Sanford and Governor Jim Hunt. Even as an adult who witnesses these accomplishments, it is still overwhelming to know my father leaves such a legacy.
The measure of a man is indeed the legacy he leaves behind for his children and his friends that he influenced over the many years.
His friends have reminded me of his “measure” – as we reflected on his good life. So here are some of the values he leaves behind that we will cherish:
Humble man – he never saw his accomplishments with ego or conceit, only as good work for a good cause.
Charismatic leader– people loved being around him. He motivated people to do their best and to enjoy the process. He was the type of man you met for the first time and never forgot.
Empathetic – he had the ability to genuinely connect to all walks of life and was never judgmental. He understood and sympathized with the less fortunate and believed in their worth. He had the innate ability to feel and connect with people.
Genuine – no bull, he said what he thought without prejudice, ego, or anger. He was comfortable in his own skin and spoke with great effectiveness with very few words.
Future man – never dwelled on the past but was always looking ahead and embraced mistakes as a learning lesson.
Work ethic – you were put on this earth to do good. He believed in “Doing what you say.” Nothing wins more than hard work.
Humor – never too serious not to see the lighter side.
Adventurous – explore life – He always encouraged us to try anything; the only way to find out what you enjoy. A lover of the outdoors, his philosophy was to just do it. Not sure he knew what a helicopter parent was.
Honest dealings – his signature all his life with family, friends, business, and politics –in every situation.
Disciplined – certainly in the practical sense, but more importantly in integrity and character.
Loyalty – his friends and family can testify of his deep abiding loyalty through good and bad times.
Lastly, Generosity – a pure generous giver. Always giving without fanfare. Through compassion versus recognition. So often did I hear, “He helped me when I needed it the most.”
His 97 years of honest, caring, and charismatic living will be our guidepost for generations to come. What a legacy to leave behind.
Indeed the “Measure” of a great man, but an even greater father. A father to 8 children, 17 grandchildren, and 8 great-grandchildren.