George Edward Bennett (Ottawa) 1928 – 2014
George Edward Bennett (1928 – 2014)
GRANITE FALLS, MINNESOTA — Michigan Indian leaders and others are mourning the loss of former Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians George Edward Bennett, who began his journey to the spirit world on his 86th birthday – December 9, 2014 in Granite Falls, Minnesota. Bennett was a stalwart leader among leaders.
A man of high integrity, Chairman Bennett walked his talk.
“A single branch is easy to break, but when we bundle many together, we are strong,” was one of Chairman Bennett’s most memorable quotes. As chairman of the Grand Traverse Band, he kept a bundle of stick six to eight inches long and bound together with a piece of leather on his desk, his wife, Lucy remembered after he passed.
He served as chairman when the Grand Traverse Band (GTB) received its reaffirmation from the federal government in 1980; then again from 1996 – 2000. Beyond serving his own tribal nation, he served as co-chair International Advisory Council – Native Nations Institute – Udall Center for Public Policy University of Arizona.
“Our tribal nation offers our sincerest condolences to Chairman George Bennett’s wife, Lucy, and his entire family. He proudly served GTB as both as a tribal councilor for several terms and a tribal chairman,” commented former GTB Tribal Chairman Derek Bailey, who is currently a tribal councilor.”
Chairman Bennett will be fondly remembered for his positive interactions with people, strong working relationship at all levels of government; continuous advocacy for tribal sovereignty and his pride in Indian Country. He took tremendous pride in his numerous roles with his family and community. I take great pride in having called him Uncle,” Bailey continued.
His many accomplishments include: 1947 graduate of Howell Public High School; 1949 graduate of U.S. Fleet Sonar School; GM Tech Graduate Labor Relations 1964; Antioch University Graduate 1982 B A Public Policy Economic Development; Vice Chairman – Ottawa and Chippewa Indians Grand Traverse Band Tribal Council; President and CEO-Native Nations Builder, LLC; Tribal Chairman – Grand Traverse Band; Vice President – Indian Country Development; Executive Director – American Indian Business Development; Director, Development & Technical Services Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Indian Programs; Director of Community Planning Coalition of Eastern Native American Washington DC; Executive Director – Michigan Commission on Indian Affairs; Executive Director – Michigan Indian Benefit Association; Production Supervisor General Motors Corporation Oldsmobile Division; Sonarman 2nd Class Petty Officer US Navy NorfolkVA; Tree Surgeon Michigan Shade Tree Company; Post Commander – American Legion Eagletown Post #120; Lifetime Member of VFW Post 7731 Lake.
Survivors include his wife Lucille ‘Bing’ Bennett, his sister Jean Stevens, his children: Glen (Candice) Bennett, Chris (Marisa) Bennett, Brad Lerschen, Delina (Darryl) Jenkins, and Sharon Pazi; grandchildren: McKenzie Bennett, Carling (David) Tanno, Jamie (Kelly) Johnston, Keri (Michael) DeRose, Drew Brockman, Shakeena Pazi, LaShanda Robinson, Gregory Robinson, Steven Brockman, Nalen Brockman, Darryl Jenkins, Jr; N’Dia Jenkins; great grandchildren: Xzavier Mikel, Gisele Schommer, Ever Schommer, Saniyah Hampton, Sofia Johnston, Zoey Johnston, Bennett DeRose, Callum Tanno, Braeden Bennett and Calliope Bennett.
He was preceded by his parents, Frank and Jennie Bennett, his sisters Florence Ulrich, Frances ‘Fran’ Thompson, and Doris ‘Dewey’Running; his brothers Royal ‘Buster’ Bennett, James ‘Jim’ Bennett, Robert ‘Bob’ Bennett, and Ernest ‘Ernie’ Bennett.
A funeral service was held for Chairman Bennett last Friday in Granite Falls, Minnesota, where he spent his last days of retirement.
A Michigan memorial service is planned in his honor on January 10, 2015 in Peshawbetown, Michigan, home of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians.
Editor’s Note: Special megwetch to Sharon Pazi, Chairman Bennett’s daughter who contributed to this article.