He was born June 2, 1926, on a farm 5 miles south of Ellsworth, Kansas, in the middle of the state in the middle of the Dust Bowl in the middle of a potato patch (almost!). He became a successful attorney and real estate developer who enjoyed international travel and adventure as well as spending time with family. With charisma and charm, great humor and tender love, a hard-work ethic and a sixth sense for business, and the tunes of Elvis and Johnny Cash in his ears, he lived life to the fullest each and every day. John Raymond Bennett, who died at age 88 on August 19, 2014, was the baby in a family of 9 children. He attended grade...
He was born June 2, 1926, on a farm 5 miles south of Ellsworth, Kansas, in the middle of the state in the middle of the Dust Bowl in the middle of a potato patch (almost!). He became a successful attorney and real estate developer who enjoyed international travel and adventure as well as spending time with family. With charisma and charm, great humor and tender love, a hard-work ethic and a sixth sense for business, and the tunes of Elvis and Johnny Cash in his ears, he lived life to the fullest each and every day.
John Raymond Bennett, who died at age 88 on August 19, 2014, was the baby in a family of 9 children. He attended grade school in the one-room Mud Creek School in Ellsworth. He began high school in Wichita, Kansas and graduated as valedictorian in his senior year at Greenville, South Carolina.
In 1944 he enlisted in the U.S. Army-Air Corps and served 2 ½ years as a radar operator and final controller on the first ground controlled approach (GCA) radar method of landing airplanes in heavy fog, storms and high winds at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage, and later in the Aleutian Islands, among other places.
Shortly after military service, John moved to Houston where he attended the University of Houston, receiving his B.A. in 1949 and his Doctor of Laws in 1952. That year he served as President of the U. of H. Law Alumni. His education also included classes at the University of Havana, Cuba, and the University of Mexico.
He practiced law from 1953 until 1988, individually and in small firms. Early on, he served for 3 years as Assistant City Attorney in Houston, and in 1963 served as Assistant to the County Judge of Harris County. As a real estate developer, he built and leased the St. Joseph Professional Building together with his brother Bill Bennett, a well-known restaurateur. From 1963 until 1985, he built luxury apartment projects, constructing over 4,000 units in Metro Houston. In 1975 he became one of the first to build single industrial buildings and parks, completing over 100 such buildings in Houston and Tulsa through 1988. In addition, he sponsored construction of several mountain homes in Colorado between 1988 and 1991.
An avid reader and student for life, he was well versed in the history and civilizations of the Mayan, Aztec, Incan and Egyptian cultures, as well as in American History and Politics, Aerospace and Space Exploration, and much more!
In 1950 he married a farm girl, Julia, from Huntsville TX, his beloved wife of 63+ years. They have shared many adventures together.
They were ecstatic in their first home – Army barracks on the U of H campus. Later they resided in Bellaire where John was President of the Bellaire Junior Chamber of Commerce, the Mid-Town Association, and was almost elected Mayor in one of the tightest races in the town's history. When they moved to Houston and began raising a family, they were active in their daughters' school activities including volunteering with the famous Poe School Carnival and secretly hiding the Lamar High School mascot Big Red from rival schools' mischief. In retirement, he enjoyed travel, learning to use the computer, and generally holding court with all visitors.
Throughout the 70s and 80s, John and his wife explored the world, often with his brother and sister-in-law. Among the many places they visited were: Machu Picchu and regions of Peru, Russia (before Glasnost), China (just after Nixon's trip), the Great Pyramids of Egypt, many parts of Europe and England, Singapore, Hong Kong, India, Australia, New Zealand, Bangkok, Mexico, Guatemala, Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Canada, as well as many parts of the United States including the race tracks in Arkansas and California, the glaciers and coast of Alaska, and the islands of Hawaii.
John is survived by his wife Julia; daughters Elizabeth Hare, Barbara Pederson and husband John, and Nancy Mateo and husband Mario; siblings Betty Mannix, Harriett Baron, and George Bennett and wife Lou; grandchildren Meredith and Jeffrey Pederson, and Emilio and Carmen Mateo; great-grandson Daniel Dengel; and many beloved nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.
A celebration of his life will be held at 2pm on Saturday, August 23 in the Main Chapel at Forest Park Lawndale with a visitation to begin at 1pm. He loved flowers, but would also be honored by gifts to the charity of your choice.