Dr. Lawrence R. Bennett
Jesup—Dr. Lawrence R. Bennett, 91, affectionately known as “Doc” or “Larry,” died peacefully on Feb. 10, 2019, at Wayne Memorial Hospital under the care of Hospice of South Georgia and surrounded by his loving family.
He was born on July 2, 1927, in Atlanta to the late Dr. L.R. Bennett Sr. and Elsie A. White Bennett. His family moved to Jesup when he was 1 month old, and later he graduated from Jesup High School in 1944.
After graduation, he continued his education at the Citadel before his college career was interrupted by a short tour of duty in the U.S. Navy as World War II was drawing to a close. Returning home, he completed his college studies in pre-med and then entered dental school at Emory University, where he held a job selling pots and pans to help pay for his college expenses.
While living in Atlanta, he met the woman who would be his wife of 63 years and a mother of four children, grandmother, business partner, confidant and soul mate, Janis Verhey. The two dated for only three months and were married at All Saints Episcopal Church in Atlanta on June 22, 1951. Living on peas, beans and rice with no car and no money, the couple moved home to Jesup in 1952.
He went into practice with his late father for about 10 years prior to his death and later was joined by Dr. Bartow Parkerson and Dr. Doug Kronn. Although he gained a great deal of success in his dental practice, he concerned himself with the well-being of the less fortunate citizens of the community as well by volunteering his services to patients whom he described as those who “fell between the cracks” and couldn’t afford to pay for or made too much money to qualify for government-assisted dental services. For 39 years, he volunteered his time with the children’s dental clinic at the Wayne County Health Department providing general dental work to children of all ages. Children, however, were not the only beneficiaries of his benevolence as he also supervised a clinic that provided denture services for senior citizens. He was also a part of the active medical staff at Wayne Memorial Hospital for many years and served as president of the Georgia Dental Association and the Southeast District Dental Association. His love of people was evident, and his love and commitment to his community endured until his final days.
He volunteered his time through countless organizations including the Jesup Kiwanis Club, the Wayne County NAACP and the Mental Health Association of America, an organization he held very near and dear to his heart. He was a mentor to many students over the years and set an example for everyone to follow with the way he lived his life. He was a firm believer in the value of higher learning, and he helped countless students attain scholarships for college over the years and even paid tuition on more than one occasion.
He was awarded the Friends of Youth award by the Optimist Club. He had served as chairman of the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce in the 1970s and was awarded the highest honor of the chamber in 2010, when he received the Distinguished Service Award. One of his proudest accomplishments was being the grand marshal of the Martin Luther King Day Parade in Jesup.
He was a longtime active communicant and Sunday school teacher at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. Perhaps it was his interest in people that explained his enthusiasm for life and his love of people that brought about his strong desire to see both unity and love thrive within the community.
In addition to his numerous philanthropic activities were a host of physical fitness routines in an attempt to better his life and the lives of his family and friends for the years to come. He took up jogging in an attempt to help kick the habit of smoking in the 1960s, a time when people didn’t run for the purpose of exercising. As he began to see the positive benefits of jogging, he introduced more activity into his life.
The Bennetts’ love of physical fitness and his late wife’s love of swimming led the family to build Wayne County’s first heated 25-yard, double-lane, lap swimming pool so that the athletes training there could do so year- round. Many a swimmer, including Olympic gold medalist David Larson, has practiced in the Bennett swimming pool.
Although he had played a “little” tennis in high school, he began to play on a regular basis. He “treated” himself to his own tennis court in 1972. After introducing his own family to the sport, he took an active role in promoting tennis to the community. A strong supporter of the high school tennis program, he assisted in securing courts for the campus.
He then took up biking. He, his late wife, his daughters and friends have traveled hundreds of miles all over the state of Georgia, sometimes even farther, participating in numerous rides to benefit various organizations and, more important to better their overall health and have a good time doing it.
In his spare time, he also enjoyed sailing, walking and hiking. He had even hiked part of the Appalachian Trail on several occasions. In his later years, he enjoyed visiting with his family and friends, always willing to lend a helping hand to a good cause and give a word of advice or encouragement to a friend in need. Of course, he continued his daily exercise and community service as always, and he had been most recently working on a book entitled QUID HIC. This book deals with big issues and asks the question, “Why we are here on Earth and for what purpose?”
In addition to his parents and his wife, he was preceded in death by his brothers, Charlton Bennett and Daniel Bennett.
Survivors include four daughters, 11 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren with two on the way. His olldest daughter, Julie Bennett Sample, and her husband, Woody, live in Oxford, Mississippi. They have three daughters and three sons-in-law. Kasey and Todd Lemkin are the parents of Camp, Ryder, Forest and Dublin. Lawren and Jesse Hoy are the parents of two daughters, Woodley and Tennyson. Abigail and Will Etling are the parents of a son, Mercer, and a daughter, Rowan. Widget Bennett Richards and her husband, John, live in Marietta. They are the parents of Nicholas, Mark and Tom Richards. Mark and his wife, Robyn, are expecting their first son. Jody Bennett Reichel and her husband, Rob, live on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. They have one daughter and a son-in-law, Morgan and John Hawk. Morgan and John have three children, a son, Cooper, and two daughters, Lenox and Logan. The Reichels also have three sons, Andrew, Jeffrey and John David. Andrew and his wife, Lisa, have a son, Robert. Maggie Bennett Missel and her husband, Chris, live in Jesup. They have a son, Lawrence. He and his wife, Ashley, have a son, Bennett; a daughter, Tybee; and another son on the way. Dr. Bennett has a sister, Tommie D. Bennett Kappler of Darien, and a brother and sister-in-law, David R. and Brigitte Bennett of Jesup.
A celebration of life will begin with a memorial service at 11 a.m. on March 2 at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Jesup with the Rev. Dee Shaffer and the Rev. Steve Larson officiating. A reception will follow immediately in the Parish Hall, which all are encouraged to attend.
Honorary pallbearers will be his caregivers, Doc’s Pool Ladies, and members of St. Paul’s Adult Sunday School Class, the Jesup Kiwanis Club, the Wayne County NAACP, the Mental Health Association of America and Penny’s Bible Study Group.
In lieu of flowers, remembrances may be made to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 745 S. Palm St., Jesup, GA 31546; Wayne Counseling Center, 263 N. Brunswick St., Jesup, GA 31546; Hospice of South Georgia, 1625 Sunset Blvd., Jesup, GA 31545; the Wayne County NAACP, P.O. Box 956, Jesup, GA 31598; the Boys & Girls Club of the Altamaha Area, 550 E. Orange St., Jesup, GA 31546; or Jesup Kiwanis Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 892, Jesup, GA 31598.
Family and friends may sign the guestbook online at www.jesupfuneralhome.com.
Howard & Jones Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
Charles Lacy “Charlie” Echols
Ludowici—Charles Lacy “Charlie” Echols, 35, died Feb. 9, 2019, in Bruns-wick as a result of injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident.
Born in Hinesville, he was raised in Long County and lived there all of his life. He was employed with M&M Drywall for many years and enjoyed woodworking, but the time he enjoyed most was spent with his daughter.
He attended A New Beginning Church in Ludowici and was preceded in death by his parents, Marsha (Chris) Loper and Larry Woods; brothers, Jeremy Echols and Trey Woodall; and grandfather, Lacy Echols.
Survivors include his daughter, Lacy Nicole Woods of Jesup; a sister, Callie Woods of Ludowici; brothers, Kenneth Waddell and Justin Boyd of Jesup and Jacob Woods of Ludowici; a stepmother, Lisa Kuntio of Ludowici; a stepfather, Raymond Loper of Newington; maternal grandmothers, Jacqueline Arnold and Janet Echols of Jesup; and several aunts, uncles and cousins.
Funeral services were held Feb. 13 at Howard Funeral Home chapel with the Rev. Tom Gardner officiating. Burial followed in Midway United Methodist Church cemetery.
Family and friends may sign the online register at www.howardfuneralga.com
Arrangements are under the direction of Howard Funeral Home of Ludowici.