JERRY BENNETT - A TRIBUTE
Jerry Dale Bennett, President of Campbellsville Industries, and who recently completed three terms as chair of the Campbellsville University Board of Trustees, was called home at 2 a.m. Tuesday, May 30, 2006, at his residence, following a short illness with cancer. He was 66.
Bennett, described as a “prince of a fellow”, was President and part owner of Campbellsville Industries, Inc., which was formerly a part of Campbellsville College, and was established in 1955.
In 1969, Herb Keeton purchased Campbellsville Industries from Campbellsville College. Bennett became President in 1979, and he, together with employees Wilbur Cox, Roger Grant, and Kenny Bennett, who is of no relation to Jerry Bennett, purchased the company.
Campbellsville Industries, began to grow and prosper under Jerry's leadership, along with his three partners. Jerry's commercial art and drafting background, allowed Campbellsville to bring all marketing and advertising in-house, along with an in-house drafting and engineering department that is second to none in the industry. The company began to earn recognition as the standard in the steeple industry, by which all other steeple companies are measured. Much of the identity of the company as well as the professional manner in which Campbellsville Industries is known, is directly related to Jerry and his attention to detail. Jerry was multitalented and deftly brought these talents together to mold the many facets of the business into a working organization. Originally known for its steeples and cupolas, Campbellsville Industries, under Jerry's leadership, expanded its product mix into other architectural metal products to include items such as cornices, balustrade and picket railings, louvers, finials, crosses, baptistries, bulletin boards, canopies, domes, weathervanes, columns, etc.
Employees in many companies rarely speak well of their employer, but this was not the case with Jerry at Campbellsville Industries. Many employees commented that they never viewed Jerry as their boss or employer, but rather they viewed him as "their friend." A living testament to the working relationship that Jerry nurtured in the office and shop environment.
“Jerry Bennett was one of a kind. He was a true source of stability and will be missed for years to come”, Kenny Bennett said. “I was asked if our company would change. Jerry would not want this company to change, but remain an honorable, honest company dedicated to honoring our Lord and Savior with the products we build.”
David England, Sales Manager at Campbellsville Industries, stated that "Jerry brought a graciousness to the office and to our company as a whole. His mentoring was by example and I feel like I have lost not only a friend, but a father figure as well."
Campbellsville University President Dr. Michael V. Carter said Bennett was a rare person.
“There are those few individuals in life who combine a sense of creativity, business acumen, servant leadership, work ethic, intelligence and Christian commitment and Jerry Bennett, my dear friend and colleague, is that person.”
Carter said Bennett gave “unselfishly of his time, expertise and resources in service to Campbellsville University. As one of the leaders of CU’s ongoing Centennial Capital Campaign, he was instrumental in the architectural improvements and continuity across campus through his design work and keen aesthetic insight.” The University presented Jerry Bennett with an honorary doctorate of humane letters at the commencement ceremony during the 2007 Spring graduation services.
Bennett was chair of the building and grounds committee at the time of his death.
“He was a prince of a fellow”, said Dan Flanagan of Campbellsville, who grew up with Bennett in Jamestown.
“I can’t say enough good things about him as a person. He had a great deal of integrity and honesty. He was a caring human being who reached out to people of all walks of life.”
Stan McKinney, chair of the Campbellsville Fourth of July Celebration, and an assistant professor of journalism at CU, praised Bennett’s community spirit.
“Jerry Bennett was one of the most community-minded individuals I have ever known. He was in the same category as Everette Lee, and that’s saying something. It was my pleasure to work with Jerry on a number of projects.”
McKinney said earlier this year, the Fourth of July Board voted to honor Bennett with the Spirit of the Fourth award, which recognizes community spirit and patriotism.
“I only wish Jerry could be with us on the Fourth to receive the award”, McKinney said.
A native of Jamestown, Bennett graduated from Russell County High School in 1957 and Campbellsville College in 1963, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in English with an art minor. He received his Master’s degree at Murray Sate University in 1968. Before coming to Campbellsville Industries in 1966 as a steeple designer, Bennett taught art at Meade County High School in Brandenburg, KY.
He was a director of Citizens Bank and Trust Co. and past President of the Campbellsville/Taylor County Chamber of Commerce, a two-time winner of the Business Person of the Year and a charter member and President of the Green River Artists Guild. He taught art at CU in a part-time capacity on numerous occasions.
Bennett was a member of Campbellsville Baptist Church, having served on numerous committees.
Jerry was a dedicated and active member of The Gideons International, a Christian professional and business men's association. The Gideons International serves as an extended missionary arm of the church: Whose sole purpose is to win men, women, boys and girls to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ through association for service, personal testimony, and distributing the Bible in the human traffic lanes and streams of everyday life. Jerry had a passion for the Lord and a concern for those he met and would not hesitate to inquire as to their relationship with the Lord. He shared his faith with others that he met.
Bennett married Jackie Ward Bennett on December 23, 1971. She survives.
Other family members include two sons and daughters-in-law, Jerry Dale II and Robin Bennett of Tucson, AZ, and Jeffrey Scott and Elizabeth Bennett of Lexington, KY; a daughter and son-in-law, Jennifer Dawn Bennett and Brian Poe of Lexington, KY; three step-grandchildren, Brittany Baney and Brandon Baney, both of Arizona, and Kalin Poe of Lexington, KY; a brother, Joe David Bennett of Jamestown; and a sister, Carol Renay Waltz of Martinsville, IN.
He was the son of the late Joseph Powers and Cora Mabel Brown Bennett, who lived in Jamestown.
The family requests that expressions of sympathy take the form of donations to Campbellsville University.
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