In Memoriam: George F. Bennett

March 17, 2014

Trustee George F. Bennett, a giant in the financial world and a faithful friend of the seminary, passed away in Hingham, Massachusetts, on Saturday, March 15 at the age of 102.

Mr. Bennett joined Gordon-Conwell’s board of trustees in 1974 at the invitation of the seminary’s first president, Dr. Harold John Ockenga. His 40 years of distinguished service included chairing the Finance Committee, serving on three presidential search committees and chairing the board from 1995 to 1998. In addition, his ongoing financial contributions provided a dependable source of financial stability for the seminary, and his extensive financial and business expertise provided guidance that allowed Gordon-Conwell to thrive. In 1998, he established the Lois W. Bennett Chair of Educational Ministries at Gordon-Conwell in honor of his mother. In recognition of his many contributions, the seminary awarded him the Order of Barnabas for distinguished service in 1996 and an honorary Doctor of Divinity in 2004.

“George Bennett left a great legacy at Gordon-Conwell. His leadership, wisdom and networking were highly significant in strengthening the institution and broadening its reach.” said President Dennis P. Hollinger. “His long-term commitment to the seminary will be greatly missed.”

In addition to sitting on Gordon-Conwell’s board, Mr. Bennett was director of several major American corporations, including Commonwealth Oil Refining, Florida Power & Light, Ford Motor Company, Gefinor Finance, Hanna Mining, Hewlett Packard, John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company, Katy Railroad, Mid-America Pipeline, New England Electric System, North American Company, Middle South Utilities, and Niagara Mohawk Power. He also served on the boards of Wheaton College, Harvard College and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, the latter two also serving as treasurer.

Mr. Bennett was born in Hingham, MA, and lived there his entire life. He attended Hingham High School and was elected in their Athletic Hall of Fame at 99 years old. After graduating from Harvard College in 1933 (where he was also awarded an honorary doctorate) with a degree in economics, he pursued a career in finances and money management. From 1943 until his retirement, he worked for State Street Money Management and Research Corporation, becoming president and director of State Street Investment Corporation. In 1982, the Boston Globe referred to him as “the most established figure in the Boston money management world.” He was twice offered the opportunity to serve as Secretary of the Treasury (from Presidents Johnson and Reagan), but declined both.

Despite his numerous professional accomplishments, Mr. Bennett took the greatest satisfaction in the faith of his children and grandchildren, and in the success of South Shore Baptist Church in Hingham, MA, and Christian Camps and Conferences, a Christian boys and girls camp he bought from developers and revitalized. All of his children and grandchildren are Christians, about which he said in a 2006 interview, “My three boys, all my grandchildren and great-grandchildren, those who have reached the age of accountability, have all made a profession of faith in Christ. The Lord has been good.” Mr. Bennett helped found South Shore Baptist Church in 1947, and watched it grow from a small Bible study into a church of several hundred families. Christian Camps and Conferences, since Mr. Bennett bought and renovated it more than 30 years ago, has operated continuously as a Christian camp ministering to boys and girls from all walks of life.

Mr. Bennett is preceded in death by his beloved wife, Helen, and survived by three (3) sons and their wives: Peter & Diana Bennett (who is a member of the board of trustees) of Osterville, MA; George, Jr. “Gerry” & Marinda “Rindy” Bennett (who is a member of the Hamilton campus board of advisors) of Hanover, MA; and Robert & Eugenia “Genie” Bennett of North Andover, MA; ten (10) grandchildren: Nancy Fulton, Kimberly Canavan, Susan Reed, Lisa Forkner, Kristen Chavez, Andrew Bennett, Lois Blatchley, Sarah Aamot, Joshua Bennett and Jonathan Bennett; and thirty-one (31) great and great-great grandchildren.

A memorial service and reception will be held at South Shore Baptist Church in Hingham, MA, at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 22, 2014.

He leaves behind a legacy of faithful and generous service to the seminary and the other organizations of which he was part, and provides an example of faithful Christian service for all.