Jerry ‘Bear’ Bennett
MARQUETTE, MI – Jerry “Bear” Bennett, age 87, of Marquette, passed away Wednesday morning, November 22, 2017, at the D.J. Jacobetti Home for Veterans.
Born “Gerald Stanley” October 7, 1930, in New York City, a son of Richard and Augusta (Eichenhorn) Bennett, Jerry was raised in Queens, New York. He worked as a beach lifeguard in his youth and graduated from Far Rockaway High School. In May, 1951, Jerry became a Hotel Technology graduate of State University of New York, Institute of Applied Arts and Sciences. While in attendance he served as both President of the Central Houseplan Association and VP of his own Gourmet Houseplan. After graduation Jerry was drafted into the US Army. He received his training at the Field Artillery Replacement Training Center (Battery B, 2nd Battalion) in Fort Sill (OK), later serving during the Korean Conflict (45th Artillery Radar Operator). Following an honorable discharge from the Army, he worked in the hospitality field before becoming the General Manager at Manny Wolf’s Chop House in New York City. He married Jane Shapiro (Queens, NY) and they had two children. Jerry later married Judy Kusmirek (Munising, MI) and the couple had two children. Jerry remained in New York until the early 70s when he permanently relocated to Marquette. He enjoyed many varied positions throughout his time in Marquette, beginning with employment as a Salesperson at the Marquette Vollwerth’s location. In the early 80’s he took a position in the AR office of Jilbert Dairy, until his employment with Riverside Auto began roughly ten years later. During his time at Riverside he held many records for high sales and eventually transitioned into their Customer Relations Manager. It was this position Jerry held when he retired in 1998. Jerry had a mind for names and faces, it was a rare occasion when he was able to simply run out for a few groceries without running into someone he knew, or someone who knew him. Every outing seemed to turn into a social visit. Jerry was a tireless, sometimes forceful, advocate for customers throughout his career. His off-the-cuff manner of speaking, and a penchant for honesty, may not have always been appreciated, however, the timbre of his voice, and his ever-present New York accent, would eventually win you over. After growing bored in retirement, Jerry became a licensed real estate agent. Eventually, his hobbies won out. He enjoyed many weekends at camp with his dear friend, Leo LaBeau. As an avid cribbage player, he played regularly at both the Elks and the Third Base Bar. It was a rare morning when he couldnn’t be found at the Third Base Bar enjoying the morning coffee klatch. Jerry had a jovial and vivid, sometimes wicked, sense of humor. He was an entertaining story-teller and was always working on some written project or another. He enjoyed pencil sketching, movies, football (New York Giants), and loved to read. Jerry was a gracious host and enjoyed cooking for others. His near “world-famous” cheesecake was always sought after at gatherings, and Jer was always there making sure you cut into it in just the right way. Jerry had a tough, bear-like, exterior, but would give anyone the shirt off his back without question. Family was all important to Jerry and meant everything to him. He never forgot a birthday and, incorporating his original sense of humor and artistic skills, enjoyed sending out Christmas cards of his own making.
Survivors include his four children, Joel (Jan) Bennett, of Fort Worth, TX, Steven (Wendy) Bennett of Connecticut, Danielle (Jon) Bennett-Starr and Perry Bennett both of Marquette; his six grandchildren, Areanna Bennett and Brooke Starr of Marquette, and also Robert and Thomas Bennett (twins) in New York, and Sarah Jane and William (Billy) Bennett, in Connecticut; his brother, Ronald Bennett and sister-in-law, Phyllis Deresh of Dallas, TX; numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins; and his good friends, David Savu and Leo LaBeau.
Jerry was preceded in death by his parents and wives, Jane and Judy.
Friends may call at the Fassbender Funeral Home on Sunday, November 26, beginning at 1 p.m. until the time of service at 2 p.m. Sunday afternoon. Drs. Daniel Arnold and Joel Bennett will officiate. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the U.P. Regional Blood Center, 580 W. College Avenue, Marquette, MI 49855.
Condolences may be expressed online at fassbenderfuneralhome .com