John E. Bennett, 92
January 23, 2014
Rockport, MA — John Bennett, 92, of Rockport, passed
away at the Lahey Clinic in Burlington on January 23, 2014, after
sustaining a head injury in a fall. The son of John I. Bennett and Hazel
(Dorr) Bennett, he was raised in Dorchester and the Germantown section
of Quincy, where he learned to handle a boat almost before he could
walk. He attended Boston Mechanic Arts High School and Massachusetts
State College, now UMass Amherst.
As a young man, while working at the Fore River
Shipyard, he learned to weld. When World War II came, he enlisted in the
Navy and was sent to aviation mechanics school. In 1943, the Navy sent
him to Pan American at LaGuardia Field in New York City, before
assigning him to four-engine seaplanes, like the PBY Coronado, that
carried cargo and mail across the Pacific Theater. Last fall, he
realized his ambition to visit the Naval Air Station Pensacola, in
Florida, to see the last remaining PBY and sit at his old flight
engineer’s station aboard that plane.
When the war ended, John returned home to Savin Hill,
Dorchester, with his hometown sweetheart, Mary Rivers, whom he had
married while stationed in Alameda, Calif. Together with his father and
father-in-law, he built the Linda B., a 52-foot fishing dragger. John
and Mary Bennett moved to Rockport, and the dragger joined the
Gloucester fleet. John soon decided he would rather repair boats than
fish on them, so he sold the Linda B. and started Bennett Welding, the
company that became his career. In later life, after what he called his
“failed retirement,” he enjoyed working part time with the crew at
Gloucester Transit Mix.
John and Mary were enthusiastic square dancers and were
among the original members of the Gloucester Skippers Square Dance Club.
They enjoyed traveling throughout the country, including a 10-week
family camping trip around the United States when their two daughters
were young. They loved their camp in Madrid, Maine, and were avid
members of the North Franklin Snowmobile Club in Phillips, Maine. John
also enjoyed both flat- and white-water canoeing and kayaking.
He and Mary were founding members of the Thacher Island
Association and served for several years as co-chairs of the Thacher
Island Town Committee. John remained an active member of the Thacher
Island volunteer work crew through this past summer. He was also active
in his Masonic lodge, the American Legion Edward Peterson Post 98 in
Rockport, the Sandy Bay Brotherhood, and was a faithful attendee of the
Sandy Bay Historical Society’s programs.
People who knew John admired him for his dry humor, his
unassuming nature, and his methodical approach to mechanical problems,
which resulted in practical and often creative solutions.
John was predeceased by Mary, his wife of 66 years. He
is survived by two daughters, Linda Berard of Rockport and Alice Bennett
of Hartland, Vt.; a sister, Winifred (Bennett) Corniea of Oakland,
Calif.; and several Dorchester cousins. He had many close friends,
including those who were like sons, J. Gregory Porter of Gloucester and
West Glover, Vermont, Robert McComiskey of Gloucester, and Lee Marr of
ARRANGEMENTS: At John’s request, there will be no
visiting hours or funeral. His ashes will be scattered off Thacher’s
Island. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Thacher Island
Association, P.O. Box 73, Rockport, MA 01966. A memorial celebration of
his life is scheduled for Sunday, May 4, at the Rockport Community
Arrangements are by the Burgess and Mackey Funeral
Home, 201 Main Street, Rockport. Condolences may be given at