Gary Duane Bennett was born May 2, 1944 in Seattle, Washington to Nila and Duane Bennett. He passed suddenly on Easter Sunday April 17, 2022. He had a beautiful childhood full of adventure: camping, boating, skiing, and travels to Hawaii, Sun Valley, and Canada. He attended Roosevelt High School where he was a Drum Major for the marching band and where he met his future wife Sandra. He also played saxophone and music was a lifelong passion. He graduated in 1962 and then attended the University of Washington. He was a member of Phi Kappa Sigma Fraternity where he made several life long friends. 1966 was a big year for him: he graduated, married his high school sweetheart, Sandra, and joined the army.
He attended OCS at Fort Benning, Georgia, became a Lieutenant, and then served in Vietnam in 1968 with the 25th Infantry as a platoon leader. He was awarded the Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. He was extremely proud that he never lost a man in combat. He was a member of the VFW and was commander of his post for a bit.
His son, Bruce was born while he was serving in Vietnam and his daughter Sarah joined the family in 1972. The family moved to Orcas in 1977 where Gary started running the gas station in Orcas Village. In 1980 he started as a caretaker to Norton Clapp’s property until 1996. Throughout all this he was a volunteer firefighter rising in the ranks to officer, training officer, battalion chief, interim chief and eventually chief. The new fire station in Eastsound was built during his time.
Like his own father, Gary loved music and theater. He took part in many productions over the years; Guys and Dolls, The Rainmaker, The Music Man, and The Wizard of Oz to name a few. He also directed The Dining Room and other plays. He started the Orcas Island Hysterical Society Freeform Riding Marine Band, deciding to make it a riding band instead of a marching band after seeing the attempts at marching. He took part in the choral society, the jazz group, Orcatrazz, and was also director of the Orcas Island Community Band for a while. Sailing and fishing were also favorite pastimes.
In 2004 he retired and moved off island to help care for his mother and eventually settled in Ryderwood, Washington. He and Sandra enjoyed many trips to National Parks, hiking, cruises, visiting family, and just spending time together. Unfortunately, the pandemic curtailed their adventures but their time together was wonderful.
Gary is survived by his wife, Sandra, his children, Bruce and Sarah, grandsons Maxwell and Rowan. His brothers Randy (Joan) and Jack (Obadinah) and his niece, Kelley, who he loved as his own, as well several cousins, nieces, and nephews. He was an incredible husband, father, and friend. He lived life well and will be greatly missed.