At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Friends of Michigan Veterans Homes
PO Box 150251
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
American Kidney Fund
11921 Rockville Pike, suite 300
Rockville, MD 20852
Life Story / Obituary
When reflecting on the life of Donald Bennett, it is clear to see that he was genuine, compassionate, and generous beyond measure with an unending desire to help others in any way he could. He worked hard and was well respected in the community he called home throughout much of his life. Blessed to spend more than 40 years with the love of his life, Don and his wife experienced so many of the best things that life has to offer. Things were not always easy for him, but he faced whatever came his way head on. Although he will be deeply missed, the memories Don leaves behind will never be forgotten.
As the 1950s dawned in America, the skies were filled with hope and promise. With the end of WWII in the mid-forties, the baby boom was underway. Technology continued to change the way we lived our lives, and people like James Dean, Elvis Presley, and Desi Arnaz became household names. It was also during the dawn of this exciting time that William Arthur and Mary Christine (Jepsen) Bennett were eagerly anticipating the birth of their new baby as spring appeared on the horizon in Chicago, Illinois, in April of 1950. Their wait was finally over when the baby boy they named Donald Charles made his arrival on April 10th. The only boy in his family, he brought his parents such joy. Don’s father worked as an insurance adjuster/underwriter while his mother was a homemaker and bookkeeper.
In many ways, Don was a young boy of his generation. He moved to Muskegon, Michigan, with his family, which also included his grandmother as she lived with them and was an important part of his upbringing. As a young boy Don enjoyed riding his bike to the shores of Lake Michigan with his friends, and he also was a Cub Scout. While in Muskegon he attended Lincoln Elementary School and then went on to Mona Shores High School for ninth and tenth grades where he also played football. When he was 16, their family moved to Grand Rapids where he went on to graduate from Union High School in 1968.
Throughout his life Don was one to work hard. His first job found him picking blueberries, and while in high school he worked at the local Dairy Queen. During high school he also worked as a bookkeeper at Russell Machine Shop while taking some accounting classes at Davenport College. After high school Don took a job as bookkeeper at Tandy Leather American Hand Crafts. He also learned the art of leather tooling. He put these skills to good use teaching classes at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans where he enjoyed working with veterans and hearing their stories. Don later spent eight years working as a bookkeeper at Ideal Seating and then took a job as a bookkeeper at Emergency Lock and Safe Company. When the owner sold the business in 1986, Don purchased it and was the owner and operator for 30 years until June of 2015.
Not to be forgotten during his younger years was Don’s blossoming romance with his true love. Her name was Rebecca “Becky” Sue Marshall, and they met while in high school. They began dating, and after four years they were married on April 17, 1971, at St. Johns United Church of Christ. The newlyweds took a honeymoon to Daytona Beach, Florida, and returned to Grand Rapids, settling into a home on Miramar Street where they remained for four years. From there they moved several times before finally settling on Northrup Street, NW, where Don spent the remainder of his days.
Over the years Don was a man of many interests. Together he and his wife loved boating, and they owned many boats of their own. For several years they had their boats on Long Ryerson Lake, and later for 22 years, cabin cruisers docked in Grand Haven. Don was an avid bowler who primarily bowled at Westgate Bowling Alley and was on several leagues. He was a Detroit Lions fan, an avid Detroit Red Wings Fan, a season ticket holder to Grand Rapids Owl’s Hockey, and later owned season tickets to the Grand Rapids Griffins. Don was also a Michigan football fan who attended several games at the “Big House.” He and Becky were very social and had a close circle of friends who affectionately referred to Don as the “senior advisor.” Don liked visiting Florida and particularly enjoyed the mangroves and pelicans of the Everglades there. When it came to music, he loved the oldies of the sixties and seventies. Among his favorite groups were Herman’s Hermits, the Beatles, and Tennessee Ernie Ford. Around the house Don loved caring for his yard, although he wasn’t much help in the kitchen unless he was making either popcorn or eggs. He was a real meat and potatoes man who loved a good steak and cheeseburgers as long as they were plain. Don read a few John Grisham novels, Reader’s Digest, and Sports Illustrated’s annual swimsuit edition. He also kept busy with word search puzzles.
Throughout most of this life, Don suffered from diabetes. Over the years this heavily strained his body and his health began to decline, leading to additional kidney problems beginning in 2014. In March of 2015, Don required hospitalization, and from there he moved to a nursing facility that May. He then needed to be moved to a special care facility in Rock Island, Illinois.
Filled with a silent strength, unwavering courage, and unending love for others, Donald Bennett was an extraordinary man to know and love. He was never one to let life get the best of him, and his love for life was easy to see. Don was always open to trying new adventures, and with a heart that beat to serve others he offered his home to anyone who needed a place to stay any time it was needed. Dearly loved, he will never be forgotten.
Donald C. Bennett, aged 65, of Grand Rapids, passed away on Sunday, March 13, 2016 at Rock Island Nursing and Rehab Center, IL. He is survived by his loving wife of 45 years, Becky Bennett; his sister Ruth Keur; his sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law, Luanne Anderson, Sally (Dick) Cryderman, Marilu (Gordon) Hart, nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews, and many friends. Don was former owner of Emergency Lock and Safe for 30 years. He will be deeply missed by everyone who knew him. A service to celebrate Don’s life will be held on Monday, March 21, 2016 at 11:00 AM Heritage Life Story Funeral Home – 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW. Visitation will be held on Sunday from 2:00 – 5:00 PM and again on Monday from 10:00 AM until the service begins. In lieu of flowers, please honor Don’s memory my making a contribution to Friends of Michigan Veterans Homes or the American Kidney Fund. To read more about Don’s life, to sign his guest book and to leave your own memory of him, visit his web page at www.lifestorynet.com