Byron Jirden Bennett peacefully passed away at his home in Tustin, Calif., on March 7, 2013. Byron was born Oct. 4, 1920, to Jirden and Lilly Bennett in Lorraine, Texas. He graduated from high school as valedictorian in 1937 and received his B.S. from Texas Tech in 1943. He also attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass. and Princeton University
. He received his Ph.D. in engineering from Stanford University, Palo Alto, Calif.
He served his country as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy
during World War II
. While stationed in Bremerton, Wash., he met Dana Jo Bradford, whom he married on June 14, 1947.
Byron was an associate professor at Texas Tech. and later at Stanford Research Institute. He worked at IBM before taking the position of head of the Electrical Engineering Dept. at Montana State College in 1960. He became dean of the School of Engineering, MSC, in 1963 and remained dean until 1982. While dean, both U.S. presidents and Montana governors asked him to serve on national and state committees respectively. He continued on at MSU as a professor and interim department head until his retirement.
Byron received many awards for his contributions to engineering. Most notable were the Distinguished Engineer Award from Texas Tech. and the Weldon B. Gibson Achievement Award for his work on the ERMA project at Stanford Research Institute.
Byron humbly assumed various roles in community organizations such as Rotary and in the United Methodist Church. He served on the Bozeman Deaconess Hospital Board.
He was an avid Ham radio operator.
Byron was preceded by his parents; a brother, Conrad Bennett; his wife, Dana Jo Bennett; and a daughter, Lucy Bennett.
Survivors include three daughters, Noelle Siri Abbott, Megan Bennett, and Beth Ellen Bennett-Blesi; and three sons, John Bradford Bennett, Clark Bennett, and Scott Bennett. He also leaves several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
A joint celebration of life and memorial service for Byron and Dana Jo will be held on April 4, 2013 at 3 p.m. at the United Methodist Church in Bozeman.
Memorial donations may be made to the Dana Jo and Byron Bennett Scholarship Fund, Montana State University Foundation, Bx. 172750, Bozeman, MT 59717, or to the Bozeman Deaconess Hospital Foundation, 931 Highland Blvd., Ste. 3200, Bozeman, MT 59715.