Dr. Robert Bennett
1933 - 2021
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Dr. Robert C. Bennett
Robert Charles Bennett passed away Friday, the 19th of February 2021, in Houston, Texas, at the age of 87. Robert was born in Houston on the10th of November 1933, to Charles Crane and Truman Herring Bennett. Bob graduated from San Jacinto High School and received the bachelor's and master's degrees in Music Education from University of Houston, the Fellow of Trinity College London diploma in the Art of Organ Playing, and the Doctor of Music degree from Southwestern University, Georgetown. Robert married Barbara Ann Wilhite on the 12th of November 1954.
Having already served as Assistant Organist at South Main Baptist Church, Organist at Riverside Baptist Church, and Choir Director at St. Philip Presbyterian church, at the age of 20 Bob was appointed Organist at St. Luke's Methodist Church, Houston, where he served for 42 years, becoming Organist-Choirmaster and ultimately Diaconal Minister of Music and Fine Arts. His wife, Barbara, also worked there for 25 years. Dr. Bennett designed St. Luke's pipe organ and was honored with St. Luke's Lifetime Achievement Award.
Dr. Bennett's acknowledged expertise in hymnody was affirmed with his ap-pointment to the Hymnal Committee of the United Methodist Church, where he served as Chair of the Subcommittee on Tunes, resulting in the 1988 publication of the United Methodist Hymnal that is still in use today. He was later named Editor of the Music Supplement II for the United Methodist Hymnal, published in 1993. He also served as President of The Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and Worship Arts.
Dr. Bennett performed organ concerts at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City, Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, and one of his favorite organs, the Air Force Academy Chapel in Colorado Springs, among many others.
He became a lifetime charter member of the American Guild of Organists in 1944 serving at local, regional, and national levels, beginning as Treasurer of the Houston Chapter at age 13, and later as a member of its National Council. In recognition of his 70 years of service to the American Guild of Organists, Bob was honored with the Edward A. Hansen national Leadership Award at its 2016 national convention.
Robert is preceded in death by his parents, his sister Ethel Jean Bennett Read, and his wife Barbara Ann Wilhite Bennett. Survivors include son Gary Bennett and wife, Gray of Plano, Texas; son, Kerry Bennett and wife, Pam of Galveston, Texas; three grandchildren, Alison Bennett Shipley and husband Allen, Jennifer Bennett Mills and husband Bryan, and Sam Bennett; great-granddaughter Margo Shipley; along with numerous other relatives and friends.
Friends are cordially invited to a visitation with the family from five o'clock in the afternoon until seven o'clock in the evening on Friday, the 26th of February, in the Jasek Chapel of Geo. H. Lewis & Sons, 1010 Bering Drive in Houston.
The memorial service will be held at two o'clock in the afternoon on Saturday, the 27th of February, in the Sanctuary of St. Luke's United Methodist Church, 3471 Westheimer Road in Houston, where Dr. Tom Pace, Senior Pastor, is to officiate. For those unable to attend the memorial in-person, virtual attendance will be available via live stream by visiting Dr. Bennett's online memorial tribute page at GeoHLewis.com and clicking "Join Livestream", there guests may share memories and words of comfort and condolence electronically with his family.
In lieu of customary remembrances, memorial contributions to honor Robert's life may be directed toward St. Luke's United Methodist Church - Bennett Arts Endowment Fund, 3471 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77027 (www.stlukesmethodist.org).

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Published in Houston Chronicle on Feb. 24, 2021.
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