Robert (Bob) was born and raised in Simpson, Louisiana but spent many years living in various states and traveling around the world as an officer in the United States Air Force. Bob was born on May 10, 1932, the middle son of three boys, to parents Wilmer Leland Bennett and Madge Brown Bennett. Bob passed away peacefully on the morning of June 7, 2021 at his residence, Belvedere Commons, in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. Bob was married to his bride, Carroll Rogers Bennett (Kelly) on July 24, 1954, in Shreveport, Louisiana and enjoyed almost 66 years of marriage.
He attended Louisiana State University where he graduated in 1954 with a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Education and a commission in the United States Air Force. After seven years as an Officer in the Strategic Air Command Bob was accepted into the Air Force Institute of Technology civilian engineering program at the University of New Hampshire. Two years later he graduated Cum Laude. Bob had a long career in armament development, received a master’s degree from Georgia Institute of Technology, and served in Vietnam as the engineer responsible for the electronic monitoring of the movement of men and supplies through North Vietnam and Laos. His 28-year career culminated in 1983 at the Air Force Armament Laboratory at Eglin Air Force Base where he retired as a Lieutenant Colonel. After retirement he continued to work as a munitions consultant and then spent time conducting joint Army/Air Force munitions testing.
Bob was known as a servant leader and as a long-time faithful member of First Baptist Church served in many capacities. He was instrumental in outreach to the community by overseeing the Live Nativity. Bob’s life was a living example of loving his neighbor. He was always willing to help those in need, those who needed something repaired, friends who needed a ride, or even a simple meal. His generous spirit was a blessing to many and an example to us all.
He enjoyed traveling, but especially when it involved service to others. He participated in several mission trips to Alaska where the team built a church in Togiak, a home for a pastor, and numerous other projects. In Madagascar, Africa he was part of a nine-member team who built a church in a remote area. Lumber was carried in on foot by local people and the team traveled 30 miles across undeveloped country daily. He helped restore a mission house and added space where people were fed from throughout the Appalachian region of West Virginia.
Other opportunities for service came with the Florida Baptist Convention Disaster Relief Program. He received training to direct the operation of the Feeding Unit. He traveled on two occasions to the site of the 9-11 disaster to feed those who were working on the cleanup of New York City. Work with the Feeding Unit and clean-up after storms included five trips to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, trips to Miami, Port Charlotte, and North Carolina. He found these work trips meaningful and fulfilling.
Bob and Kelly enjoyed trips to visit family members, family reunions, a family cruise to Alaska to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary, motor home excursions, cruises, several European trips, the Holy Land, and the Grand Canyon. Bob was a starter on Simpson High School’s basketball team and played as a freshman in college. He always enjoyed watching basketball and other sports.
Bob was committed to his family and was a loving father and grandfather. He is survived by his children and their families: daughter Ann Gill, her husband Randall Gill, granddaughter Laura Gill and great grandson Archer; daughter Robin Bennett and Dave Clark and granddaughter Maia Pike and her husband Jeremy, and great grandson James, and granddaughter Danielle Friedlich and her husband Chris, and great grandson Owen; son Robert E. Bennett, Jr., his wife Anne and granddaughter Georgia Henderson and her husband Nathaniel, and great grandchildren Preston, Savannah and Luke and granddaughter Emily Sauvageau and her husband John, and great grandson Ben. “Papa” to the grandchildren and great grandchildren, he will be greatly missed. Bob was preceded in death by his parents, his faithful wife Kelly in 2020, and his brothers Wilmer Leland Bennett, Jr. and James Freddy Bennett.
Emerald Coast Funeral Home is coordinating the memorial service which will be held at the First Baptist Church of Fort Walton Beach at 126 Harbeson Avenue ., SE, Fort Walton Beach, FL 32548 on Friday, June 11, 2021 in the church sanctuary. Visitation will begin at 1:00 followed by the memorial service at 2:00. Burial will immediately follow at Brooks Cemetery.
Expressions of love and sympathy may be placed and viewed online at www.emeralcoastfuneralhome.com. In remembrance of Bob’s life of faith and service, contributions may be made to First Baptist Church Missions Programs.
The services can be livestreamed at The First Baptist Church FWB You Tube page or at www.fbcfwb.org
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