Coping with Grief
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With Love & Gratitude
Our family deeply thanks all of you who have touched his life and ours, for all of your love and support to Gary, and all of us. We thank each of you dear faithful friends and family for every kind word, generous deed, and thoughtful act, including thanks to the ALS Association and all his providers and caregivers at Fremont Regional Hospice for your amazing care and support.
We know too that many of you are experiencing painful illnesses of your own or of family members, or coping with the indescribable pain of losing a loved one dear to your heart. We love you, we feel for you, and we pray for you - for your comfort, for your peace, and strength, that Jehovah’s love will surround you, and that hope will fill and lift your hearts.
Gary Robert Bennett
“That’s my dazzling Daddy!” his daughters would greet him affectionately. This designation was first coined by little Chanté, barely more than a toddler, as she proudly introduced Gary to passersby in a restaurant.
Gary Robert Bennett was born on a summer’s day in Toledo Ohio to Kenneth Robert and Pauline Brower Bennett. He was the second of four children, Gail, Gary, Bonnie, and Warren. The four siblings have stayed close all these years. And in time, Gary came to have many nephews and nieces whom he loves very much, including also those from the Pierce side of the family.
Gary told of happy childhood memories building treehouses and playing baseball. He remembered congregation picnics in their backyard which would end with sitting round a fire under the stars, looking up, talking about Jehovah and his creation, and the new world to come.
Gary was always interested in truth. What was true and real and right really mattered to him. He took to heart Jesus’ words at John 17:17, “Your word is truth.” This was something he learned and valued from his mother Pauline. She recognized the Bible as God’s word of truth. Gary remembered, when he was around 9 years old, coming home off the school bus to find Jehovah’s Witnesses visiting. His mother told them that if they could show that what they were teaching was really from the Bible, only then would their family be interested. From then on, they started studying the Bible together as a family with the Witnesses, and Gary loved what he was learning! He would say it was just so clear and logical. It was all right from the Bible, it was the truth!
He and his family continued learning and in turn were moved to start teaching these precious truths to others. Gary was baptized at the Lancaster Ohio assembly in 1954 in a horse trough. And so began a lifelong ministry.
A couple years later, the Bennett family moved to Arizona. Later, as a young adult, drawn to the mountains and beautiful scenery of Colorado, Gary moved to Denver. He was very active in the congregation there and enjoyed various privileges of service. He loved giving talks, teaching, and reasoning from the Scriptures.
In Denver he found a home on Pierce street, and coincidentally, later met a lovely young sister named Tena Emily Pierce. Eventually, they married, and enjoyed many years together serving Jehovah, giving of their time and their hearts in their volunteer ministry, pioneering, and serving cultures and communities where there was great need. Even when they had little materially, they were always generous - giving, and helping others. They enjoyed many adventures together. And occasionally, in a spirit of good humor and fun, they and their friends had many a good laugh over pranks and practical jokes they played on each other. In time, their adventures in life came to include two daughters, Chanté and Anaiah.
His daughters recall, “One of the most valuable things our parents did for us was to teach us to seek, and come to know and love our Creator, to see him as a real person, a loving Father. They taught us to notice, and stand in awe of his many wonders throughout the natural world - to see his power, his brilliant mind, his wisdom and artistry in how he designed the earth, the universe, and all that fills it. And to see all of these things as expressions of his love for us. Some of our happiest memories with our parents were spending time in the ministry with them, watching, listening, and learning as they enthusiastically shared exciting Bible truths about God and his Kingdom, sharing hope and comfort with people, joining them as they held Bible study classes with individuals and families near and far.
“And we loved to hear our dad pray. He always gave beautiful prayers, recounting Jehovah’s amazing and endearing qualities, his creative works, his purpose, his promises, thanking him for all his goodness and gifts, thanking him for all our loved ones, and praying for his help and blessing for them. It always touched our hearts. Even down to his final days, when his health and strength were failing, we still loved to hear him pray.”
Gary was always full of ideas, clever inventions, and witty sayings. He was industrious, and strove to do quality work. Throughout his life, he worked in a variety of fields. As a boy, he worked on neighboring farms, and then as a paperboy, delivering papers for 14 miles each day. He later worked in retail, custodial, carpentry, and more. He also restored and sold cool classic cars. He ran various businesses over the years. When he worked as a waiter, he took pride in providing excellent service. He tried hard to be attentive, anticipating and caring for their every need, wanting to make their experience truly enjoyable and memorable.
Gary was an excellent carpenter and craftsman. To him, it was an art. He loved to make things beautiful, giving each space a unique character, making even a small house grand. His girls again recall, “It was fun on the rare occasion when we got to go to work with our dad, watching him build and craft - from his work on Victorian and Tudor style mansions to his trademark two-story, multi-room dog houses with picture windows and trim for a palace. We enjoyed just being there with our dad, the smell of fresh sawdust, playing with scrap wood and building our own contraptions. We even built a ‘popcorn’ stand, and filled little bags with sawdust ‘popcorn’ to sell.”
No matter what job he was doing secularly, his highest work and commission was his ministry, his love of God, and sharing the “good news of the Kingdom.” That was the ultimate work of his life. It was what he did from when he first learned these things as a boy until the last day of his life - a life, which he learned from the Bible, was not to be lived and ended in mere brief futility, but that will soon again be restored, to full vibrancy, and continued on in joy, with purpose, and wonderful prospects eternally.
“Our dad loved the mountains and was always captivated by their majesty and the grand work of our Creator’s hand. We remember fondly trips with family and friends to the mountains. And all the way, singing together - we were always singing! Life is always sweeter with song. Music holds all the cherished moments, it lights them up and fills them with color, and plays them back in our hearts.”
Speaking of music, Gary was a singer, songwriter, and impressionist - “the human jukebox” some called him. He entertained in venues throughout the Rocky Mountains, and even released a couple of CDs. He did a great variety of impressions, even from a young age. His first impression was Vaugn Monroe at age seven. He saw it made people smile and made them happy, so he’s been doing it ever since. His daughters recall, “But truly our favorite was when he would sing songs about Jehovah and the Kingdom, when he would sing from his heart in his own beautiful voice, full and strong, warm and surrounding. Oh, how we wish we could still hear him sing to us, sing to Jehovah. And most certainly we know that, surely as he peacefully sleeps in God’s powerful loving hands now, by that same power and love, he will soon again be awakened in paradise, and sing with all his heart, soul, and voice, like never before.”
When Gary later remarried, to Elizabeth Marie, he gained by marriage another son and daughter, Greg and Justine. Gary and Elizabeth worked hard together in many fine works and endeavors, serving zealously in the Park Avenue Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Denver. It was a large, warm and lively congregation, with many lifelong cherished friends. Our family has vivid memories of being there together, the auditorium filled with joyful voices, all fully singing out beautiful songs of heartfelt praise to Jehovah. Gary and Elizabeth happily among them, hand in hand swaying as they sang, glowing and smiling brightly ear to ear. It was a beautiful thing to see and hear!
Later they moved to Colorado Springs, and in time, to Canon City, and made many more precious friends that would last to the end. Together, they continued their heartfelt efforts in their ministry. They loved to watch the eyes of interested ones light up when learning beautiful truths that had the power to transform their lives. They made an art of everything they did - whether in teaching or in their secular work together, such as restoration, remodeling and decor. And together, they danced! There was always music and singing and dancing.
When Elizabeth later became ill and passed after a long and valiant battle with cancer, it broke many hearts, and left a deep and dark void in all our lives, a pain still hard to bear to this day. But her spark still lights up our hearts. As the years pass, it grows and fills the spaces with cherished thoughts of her, and sends us ever forward to the day when we will meet again.
In time, Gary married again to Burletta Louise Marcon. And again his family grew to include by marriage another daughter and son, Kellie and Todd, along with their children and grandchildren, and more brothers- and sisters-in-law, all of whom he came to love and appreciate so much. Gary and Burletta had many fun times with family and friends. Life was full of music and laughter, and good Italian cuisine! They traveled all over singing and entertaining at venues throughout Colorado. They continued their volunteer ministry and Bible studies, and came to love those whom they taught. They gave and received much love and support from many friends in the congregations in Canon City, Pueblo, and beyond.
The loss of dear Burletta hurt deeply. With sadness, but hope and love in our hearts, we think of her, and look to the new day ahead when all God’s promises will be fulfilled, and we will enjoy countless happy reunions as we welcome back all such dear loved ones lost.
Gary held that hope in his heart, firm like an anchor secure. Throughout all the painful losses and his own dreadful illness, the promises of our loving God Jehovah reassured him and brought him comfort, they kept him solid and grounded. Such hope helped him continue through his darkest days. He never doubted God’s love, or God’s promise that, even if he should fall asleep in death, his dear Father Jehovah would one day soon wake him up again, restored to full health, and undo all the damage that has brought suffering and pain to each of us, and he will pour out endless blessings on mankind for an eternity to come.
Gary shared that hope and Bible truths with all whom he met. When he couldn’t visit people in person, he spent tremendous effort and energy to write letters to people, telling them about that hope. He prayed and thanked his God every day for that hope, and for all God’s loyal love to him. He looked to him and leaned on him when he was in distress and pain.
At times through his illness he would call out in pain, and then we’d hear him say, “Oh dear Father Jehovah, help me please.” Jehovah did help him, right to his last faithful breath. Jehovah helped him endure, and to fight the fine fight to the end, and win! In peace and full assurance of his Heavenly Father’s love, in the safety of his mighty hands he went to sleep in trust. Now we, with him, trust in Jehovah’s loyal love, and in his great power and beautiful promises of hope - hope to light our hearts and light our way… until that beautiful day…
Until we meet again, and once again, you sing to us…
"By day Jehovah will grant me his loyal love,
And by night his song will be with me—a prayer to the God of my life."
- Psalm 42:8