R.C. "Bob" Bennett rode off into the sunset Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013, from his home in Midland, Texas. Bob was born Aug. 8, 1929, in Mitchell County, Texas, to Robert Hal Bennett and Stella Edna Welch. He was reared in Nolan County, Texas, on his parents' ranch with his best friend and sister, Avyce. He attended Highland High School in Maryneal, where he participated in track, football and basketball while also performing ranching and farming duties.
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After graduating in 1946, he attended Hardin-Simmons for one year, where he roped calves and rode broncos in amateur rodeo. In 1947, Bob borrowed $50 from his dad and headed for Midland and the oil fields. There he met and married Billie Jo Watson in October 1949, and they were together until her death in 1984.
Bob was employed by the Halliburton Co. in Midland and Houston as a draftsman and electrical logging engineer. He also worked for Sinclair, El Paso Natural Gas, spent three years operating his own well service company and two years as a farm and ranch developer. He returned to Midland in 1965 as an independent petroleum landman and eventually started R.C. Bennett Company as an independent oil and gas operator, which he continued to actively operate until the end of his life. He did business on a handshake and did not tolerate fools. One of his oilfield experiences was chronicled in the book, "Oilfield Stories and Other Lies."
He served in the U.S. Army for two years during the Korean conflict, from May 1952 to May 1954, attaining the rank of corporal. He was stationed in Stuttgart, Germany, in the 11th Machine Records Unit and was a PT instructor. Bob was able to return to Germany with his daughters in 1985 in his cowboy hat and boots, where he made friends with everyone he met and became known as "Herr General" at the Hoffbrauhaus! Bob Bennett never met a stranger and his motto was "Have a little fun every day!" Luckily he carried everyone along with him.
Bob loved wide-open spaces and spending time fishing on Lake Amistad or driving around his working cattle ranch in New Mexico, looking at cows and rocks. He rode horseback in the New Mexico Chuckwagon Riders Association Trail Ride in N.M. for more than 40 years where his tradition was to "set out a light and a bottle of whiskey and they will come." Wherever Bennett had a campfire everyone flocked to hear stories (some of them true), drink a lot of whiskey and sing a lot of songs.
Everyone knew Bob's singing prowess around Midland and Del Rio, where he used that deep baritone to stop the chatter, serenade the ladies and pack the dance floors. Wearing his Silver Belly Stetson and buying "whiskey for everybody," he won hearts wherever he went. One of the highlights of Bob's singing career was winning the Karaoke Contest on a Caribbean Cruise where he performed in front of 1,500 people at the age of 80!! Another great honor was becoming a Master Mason and a Jester in his later years and the friendships that he made and strengthened through that bond.
Bob Bennett was very generous with his time and money, hosting two LHS '76 class reunion parties in his home, donating to the American Legion, the VFW, and cancer research and providing and cooking all of the food (with a lot of help from his friends) for the last 20 years at the Midland Cerebral Palsy Rehabilitation Center Family PlayDay. We hope, in lieu of flowers, you will consider donating to any of these worthy causes or Hospice Midland.
Bob is survived by his daughters: Jean Bennett currently of Midland, Texas, and Jane Bennett of Eagle, Colo.; and his two nieces: Karen and Sue Ann Reeder of Ruidoso, N.M. He is predeceased by his infant son, Robert Neil; wife, Billie Jo; and his sister, Avyce Reeder.
A visitation will be held from 7-9 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013, at the funeral home. A church service will be held at 1 p.m. Monday, Feb. 18, 2013, at Stonegate Fellowship with graveside services to follow at Resthaven Memorial Park. We hope the usual suspects will join us at Mr. Bennett's home after the services for a safety meeting and stories around the campfire to celebrate a life well lived but cut way too short. His mischievous grin, kindness, generosity, sense of fun and loyal friendship will always be remembered.
Arrangements are under the direction of Nalley-Pickle & Welch Funeral Home & Crematory of Midland. Online condolences can be made at: www.npwelch.com.
Published in Carlsbad Current-Argus on Feb. 15, 2013