2005-12-01 / Obituaries

Woodrow Bennie

Woodrow Bennie
Woodrow Bennie Woodrow W. Bennie, 90, of Rudyard, was a United States Marine Corps veteran and Japanese prisoner of war in World War II who was instrumental in founding the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4905 in Rudyard. He delighted in teaching many children to swim in the Rudyard High School pool. He was formerly honored as Rudyard’s Citizen of the Year for his efforts.

Mr. Bennie passed away Monday, November 21, 2005, at War Memorial Hospital in Sault Ste. Marie, surrounded by his family.

He was born August 10, 1918 in Detroit, to James and Elizabeth (nee Taylor) Bennie.

Affectionately known as “Red” by all who knew him, he came to make his home in the Upper Peninsula as a young man of 18.

On March 7, 1940, he joined the United States Marine Corps and served his country in World War II. He was captured by the Japanese at the fall of Corregidor and spent the next three and a half years as a prisoner of war. When discharged from the military February 2, 1946, he returned to Rudyard and was united in marriage to Bertina Boncher in 1948. They were married nearly 57 years.

Mr. Bennie was a general contractor who was a lifetime member of the Carpenters and Joiners Union. He was instrumental in the founding of the former English-Wallis VFW Post 4905 in Rudyard.

Mr. Bennie will be remembered by countless children and their parents as the person who taught them to swim at the Rudyard High School pool. Teaching swimming brought him endless joy as he delighted in seeing the children overcome their fear of water and develop their self-confidence, friends said; it also demonstrated his open- handed generosity. He was recognized by the community for this effort by being named “Rudyard Citizen of the Year.” The community will also remember his yard and flower and vegetable gardens, from which he derived so much enjoyment and pleasure. Mr. Bennie was an avid inventor and reader. He applied his knowledge of materials in the construction of various devices ranging from a blueberry picker to squirrel-proof bird feeders.

Mr. Bennie is survived by his wife, Bertina; one daughter and her family, JoAnn and Ken Gowriluk of Tulsa, Oklahoma; two sons and their families, James and Hetti Bennie of Berrien Springs and John and Patty Bennie of Weidman; and five grandchildren, Kristin, Megan, Tess, Daniel, and Brandon. Also surviving is one sister, Jean Holmes of Ohio.

He was preceded in death by his son, Jeff, in 1967; four brothers, Chuck, James, Alex, and an infant; and one sister, Elizabeth “Betty.”

A memorial service and celebration of Mr. Bennie’s life was held Friday, November 25, at 2:30 p.m. at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Rudyard.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be directed to the Rudyard Area Education Fund, P.O. Box 394, Rudyard, Michigan 49780.

Reamer Galer Funeral Home in Pickford is serving the family.

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