James E. Bennett, 64, of Watson Drive, died Thursday evening at the William W. Backus Hospital with his family at his side.
On June 30, 1948, he was born in Columbia City, the son of Charles E. Bennett and the late Dorothy (Rock) Bennett.
James grew up in Indiana, graduated from Columbia City Joint High School and attended Purdue University for two years before enlisting in the U.S. Navy in 1968, serving as a machinist’s mate aboard the USS Archerfish.
He was honorably discharged in 1975. While serving in the Navy he met and fell in love with AnnMarie Wunderlich. They were married June 3, 1972, at St. Joseph’s church.
This past June, Jim and AnnMarie celebrated their 40th anniversary with friends and family by the ocean in New London.
Renewing of vows were officiated by Father Leszek Janek. For many years he worked as a senior instructor at the Millstone Power Station in Waterford.
James was a kind hearted person with strong Christian values and a unique sense of humor, but most of all he was a loving husband and father who was devoted to his family.
For twenty-eight years he was involved with the Boy Scouts of America having been the Scout Master of Troop 5 which met at the Cathedral of St. Patrick in Norwich.
Scouting became a passion of his, eventually becoming a Wood Badger and serving as director of Silver Bar JLTC as well as being a Friends of Scouting director.
Amongst numerous honors and awards, Jim received the Siler Beaver in 2000. He was instrumental in establishing and coordinating the yearly Millstone Merit Badge-oree. An annual event in which he recruited his wife, children, extended family members and friends to staff, which grew to include hundreds of participating scouts each year.
Surviving relatives include his wife, AnnMarie; parents Charles and Vesta Bennett; four children, Dorothy (Michael) Bennett - Jakubowski, Jamie (Brian) Cubanski, Sean Bennett and James (Myrna) Bennett; grandchildren, Emily and Greyson Cubanski, Katelyn and William Jakubowski, Aleysia and Hayden Bennett and Carrie Pletcher; one great-granddaughter, Milena Pletcher; siblings, Cheryl Dawson, Charleen Bechtold, Suzanne Johnson, Renee Aarick, Sherry Dowell, Dennis Bennett, Philip Trout and Victoria Bennett and more than 20 nieces and nephews.
He was predeceased by his mother, Dorothy (Rock) Bennett; his mother and father in-law, John and Rose Wunderlich and both maternal and paternal grandparents.