The family of Mel Bennett of Quilcene, Washington, is sad to announce his death on Tuesday, March 7, 2023.
Mel was born on his grandmother’s farm in Wyoming to Edna and Roy Bennett. He grew up in Deer Lodge, Montana, where he was a stand-out basketball player all through high school. He graduated from Powell County High School in 1954.
One of Mel’s proudest memories was of his service in the United States Army as a paratrooper in the 101st Airborne, especially when he was stationed in Japan. Upon completing his enlistment, Mel married his high school sweetheart, Naomi, in September 1957. Their three children were born during Mel’s college years at the Montana School of Mines and the University of Montana. After college graduation in 1960, Mel worked a few years as an investigator for the federal government.
His favorite work, though, was as a high school social studies teacher at Quilcene High School from 1968 until retirement in 1992. Over the years at QHS, Mel coached football and junior high basketball, taught driver’s education, was head of the federal project and was acting principal for one year. After retirement, Mel and Naomi worked in Yellowstone National Park visitor center bookstores for six summers.
Throughout his life Mel was an avid fisherman; he loved being out in a boat on the water. He often enjoyed friendly competitions of pool and ping pong with family and friends. Most of all, though, Mel loved to hook the pickup to their travel trailer and take trips with Naomi by his side. Together they visited most if not all 50 states and all of the Canadian provinces. They especially liked visiting as many national parks as possible.
Mel is survived by his wife Naomi Bennett; his children Nancy Sedlacek (Craig), Ron Bennett (Gwen), Phil Bennett (Barbara); four grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; his brother Robert Bennett (Frances); and nieces, nephews and cousins. He was preceded in death by both parents and his sister, Betty Justice.
A celebration of life will be held at the Quilcene Community Center at 2 p.m. Sunday, June 11, 2023. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to Ecumenical Christian Helping Hands Organization (ECHHO, 1110 Jefferson St., Port Townsend, WA 98368) or the Quilcene/Brinnon Dollars for Scholars (QBDFS, PO Box 477, Quilcene, WA 98376). You are invited to share remembrances of Mel on the Kosec Funeral Home memorial page at kosecfm.com, under “Obituaries.”