Anne G BennettOctober 2, 1932 ~ July 22, 2017 (age 84)
Resting on the promise that "to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord," Anne Gillespie Bennett joined her loved ones in God's presence July 22, 2017. Anne was born in the coal mining town of Chattaroy, West Virginia, on October 2, 1932. She graduated from Williamson High School in 1949 and then enrolled at King College in Bristol, Tennessee. There she met her future husband and love, Chipley Barbour Bennett. He graduated and joined the Air Force. After Chipley was stationed in Fairbanks, Alaska, Anne traveled by bus for three days to Seattle and flew to Fairbanks where they were married on July 24, 1952. Becoming teachers, they settled down with their two sons, Chipley, Jr., and Christopher in 1959 in Valparaiso, Florida. They became involved with the founding of the local Westminster Presbyterian Church and have remained active in the church ever since. Both became teachers in Okaloosa County; Anne taught at Niceville High for 28 years. In 1962 the family flew to Guam where they taught two years, enjoying the island and its people, while Chipley avidly collected sea shells. After returning in 1964, Anne worked with Community Concert, which brought musical groups and soloists to perform in our community. She also worked with Florida League of the Arts to advance the arts in our county. Retiring from teaching in 1992, she and Chipley went to Odessa, Ukraine, at the invitation of the former Soviet Union. They provided a Bible based curricula to the teachers who wished to instill Christian Morals and ethics in the schools. They distributed thousands of Bibles for the teachers, a forbidden book for 70 years under communism. This wonderful experience in Ukraine had a profound influence on their lives.
Anne had an ongoing love of people, all kinds and types. She had to engage herself with everyone she met – young or old. She loved teaching. Woe unto anyone who would misuse the English language in her presence. She always enjoyed a joke – especially anything “punny.” She loved to share jokes, banana bread, poetry, or anything she thought others could enjoy more than she did herself. Anne’s mother said she was a "born boss.” Anne would (or could) automatically take charge of any group – two or three up to hundreds of people. A confident and unabashed extrovert herself, anywhere she went was her classroom. Anne delighted in getting people – especially youngsters – to perform and use their gifts and skills. While praising their efforts, she would belittle her own abilities – often as a means to get others to share their talents. She was also a “born teacher” who could never really “retire.” She never stopped asking young people about their reading habits. Her common statement to them: “read any Dickens you can find.”
Funeral Services will be held at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Ft. Walton Beach, FL at 3PM with family receiving friends from 1PM to 3PM on Saturday, July 29, 2017. Interment will follow at Sunset Cemetery, Valparaiso, FL.