John C. “Sonny” Bennett, 78, of Port Charlotte, Florida, passed away Tuesday, October 23, 2012, at his son’s residence. He was born January 5, 1934 to Cecil L. and Sue Spear Bennett in Jacksonville, Florida, and was a sixth generation Floridian. John graduated from Fort Myers High School in 1952 where he lettered in baseball, football and basketball. He also played in the band and was involved in many school clubs. After graduation, John attended the University of Florida for a short stint and then joined the U.S. Army where he served in the Korean War between 1953 and 1955 with two of his close friends, Vern Jungferman and Bruce Payne. John then returned to the University of Florida where he met his future wife, Neita Sue Creel. John and Neita Sue were married in Fort Myers, Florida on January 6, 1957.
They moved to Punta Gorda that same year to manage the newly expanded family business known as Thrifty Drugs until 1968. John and Neita owned their own business from 1968 to 1988 where John became a licensed building, plumbing and aluminum contractor and a licensed real estate broker. In 1988, John became an employee of the Charlotte County Government where he served in the capacity as Land Development Superintendent and Community Development Director. He had many friends there and always enjoyed the challenge at the commissioners’ meetings every week. John felt blessed by having Mary as his business secretary, he enjoyed telling folks he could never do without her.
John was a talented artist and received awards and ribbons in both Charlotte and Lee Counties for his oil paintings and pencil sketching’s. He was chosen by the United Telephone Company of Florida to illustrate the cover of one of their published phone books. He was a current member of the Arts & Humanities Council of Charlotte County and the Visual Arts Center of Punta Gorda.
John was an avid hunter, fisherman and enjoyed traveling. He spent many years camping in the Everglades, fishing in Okeechobee and boating in the gulf waters. After retiring in January 2001, John was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. The news was devastating to him as this had a tremendous effect on the life that he loved so much.
John was survived by his loving wife of 55 years, Neita Sue; son, John Stephen Bennett; daughter, Pam Foulk; son-in-law, Vernon Foulk; granddaughter, Sonya Foulk; grandson, Sean Foulk; great grandsons, Kolton, Kollin and Kaden; sister, Sue B. Grimes; close family friend and caregiver, Kathy Heiss; furry family member, Molly; niece, Susie Grimes Bell (Charles) and great niece, Elizabeth S. Graddy; nephew, W. Carl Grimes (Karen) and great niece, Kaitlyn M. Grimes; and many other nieces, nephews and dear friends. John was preceded in death by his father, Cecil Bennett, who died in 1983 and his mother, Sue Spear Bennett, who died in 2011 at the age of 100.
The family will receive friends from 10:00 am till 11:00 am, Saturday, October 27, 2012 at the Kays-Ponger & Uselton Funeral Home, 635 E Marion Avenue, Punta Gorda, FL. The Funeral Service will follow on Saturday at 11:00 am at the funeral home. A graveside service with military honors will be held that afternoon at 1:00 pm at the City of Ft Myers Cemetery, 3200 Michigan Avenue, Ft Myers, FL. In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of John may be made to Tidewell Hospice at tidewell.org or to the Parkinson’s Foundation at parkinsonfoundation.org
Please visit kays-ponger.com to leave the family condolences and to sign the online guestbook. Kays-Ponger & Uselton Funeral Home and Cremation Services is in charge of arrangements.