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Judge Thomas E. Bennett, 94, passed away on February 26, 2015 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. A funeral service will be held at 11:00 am on Monday, March 2, 2015 at Quail Springs Baptist Church in Oklahoma City. Interment will follow at 2:30 pm at Fairlawn Cemetery, Stillwater, Oklahoma. Strode Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements.
Born in Durant, Oklahoma on October 10, 1920, he was the last surviving child of the late Dr. and Mrs. Henry G. Bennett, long time President of Oklahoma State University
Judge Bennett’s career was one of exemplary service to his country. Shortly after graduation at then Oklahoma A&M College, he became an infantry officer in World War II, often leading behind-the-line rescue and recovery teams through enemy territory to rescue and bring home pilots shot down during critical air missions in the South Pacific. Wounded several times, he stayed for the duration of the war, much of it in the jungle environments of the Solomon, New Georgia, and Philippine Islands. He served at the Pentagon during the Korean Conflict before returning to Oklahoma and a private law practice. He continued his national service in the Army Reserve before retiring as a Colonel.
During the Johnson administration, he returned to federal service at Washington, D.C. at the Maritime Administration before becoming an Administrative Law Judge with the Social Security Administration. Prior to his retirement in 2011 at the age of 90, he was honored for 50 years of Federal Government service.
Judge Bennett earned a Bachelor of Science degree in history from Oklahoma State University, a Jurist Doctorate degree from Harvard University, and did post-graduate studies at Georgetown University. He was an adjunct professor at the International School of Law in Washington, D.C.
He was an active member of Quail Springs Baptist Church (originally known as Nichols Hills Baptist Church) in Oklahoma City since 1952 where he served as a Sunday School Teacher and Deacon. He was a prolific writer of letters and postcards and read through the Bible at least annually since he was 10 years old.
Over the years he was active in a variety of community activities including service as Chairman of the Oklahoma County Election Board; Post Commander of the American Legion; Trustee at Oklahoma Baptist University; and active in various Oklahoma political campaigns. Judge Bennett was also a 32nd degree Mason.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Emma Adele Bennett; parents, Dr. and Mrs. Henry G. Bennett; and his siblings.
He is survived by his children: Beverly Bennett Groom and husband, Ted, of Arlington, Virginia; Elizabeth Bennett of Oklahoma City; Dr. Tom Bennett, Jr and wife, Sue, of Tulsa; and David Bennett and wife, Susan, of Oklahoma City. Also by his grandchildren: Tom Bennett, III and wife, Rebecca, of Tulsa; Jim Bennett and Hank Bennett of Tulsa; Matt Bennett of Oklahoma City; and Caroline Groom Roche and husband, John W. Roche, of Bethesda, Maryland; great-grandchildren, Tom Bennett, IV, Taylor Bennett, Anna Bennett, Noah Bennett, and Eli Bennett of Tulsa; and numerous nieces and nephews. The family wants to thank Mildred Lehman, his and Emma Adele’s caregiver during many years of devoted service.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests gifts to the OSU Foundation for the Bennett Memorial Chapel, PO Box 1749, Stillwater, OK 74076-1749 or Quail Springs Baptist Church, 14613 N May Ave, Oklahoma City, OK 73134.
Condolences may be emailed to the family and an online obituary may be viewed by visiting www.strodefh.com.
This page was updated: Monday, 29-Jun-2015 08:09:23 CDT
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