Enoch Dale Bennett passed away peacefully in the Winona home of Wayne and Susan (Bennett) Kimber, surrounded by family on August 21, 2020. Pinky, as he was known to many, was born on March 21, 1927, in Mt. Ida Township, Wisconsin, the third child of Gloy and Hazel (Adkins) Bennett. After his mother passed away when he was four, Pinky and his siblings were separated amongst family members. Pinky spent much of his early youth on the family farm near Fennimore, Wis., with his maternal grandparents, Enoch and Luella Adkins. He was reunited with his siblings after his father married Cecelia Zimmerman. The family moved several times, ending up in Lanesboro, Minn., where he graduated from high school in 1944. It was during this time that he met Gail Laganiere who became the love of his life.
Pinky joined the Navy shortly before his 18th birthday with the dream of becoming a pilot. He spent the next year in naval training, attending college classes and maintaining aircraft at bases around the country. Pinky was discharged in 1946 and returned to Lanesboro. Although he didn’t become a pilot while in the Navy, he fulfilled his dream later in life by obtaining his private pilot’s license. Pinky graduated from Winona State Teacher’s college in 1949. Pinky loved sports, and while attending Winona State, he played football and baseball. He also played town team baseball for Lanesboro for several years. Busy with school, sports and holding down part-time work, he somehow found time to begin dating Gail.
Pinky and Gail were married at St. Patrick’s Church in Lanesboro on August 12, 1950. Pinky started his teaching career at Waldorf-Pemberton High School, where he taught a variety of subjects. In 1951, Pinky and Gail started their family by welcoming son, Mark. Son, Steven, and daughters, Susan and Cheryl, had joined the family by 1955, when the family moved to Spring Valley. At Spring Valley High School, Pinky taught chemistry and physics and also coached several sports teams. The family continued to grow with the arrival of sons, Charles, Anthony and Patrick, and daughter, Angela.
Pinky ended his teaching career when he joined the Minnesota Education Association in 1972 as the Southeast Minnesota Uniserv director, a position he held until 1983. That same year brought another move, this time to Fresno, Calif., when Pinky was hired as the assistant director of the Fresno Teachers Association. Pinky later became a director with the Central Valley District of the California Teachers Association. He retired from CTA in 1994, ending a career of 44 years in education.
During their time in Fresno, Pinky and Gail lived in Sierra Sky Park, the nation’s first residential fly-in community. They were active members in the local chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association where Pinky served in many roles, including association president. This was a special time for them as many lasting friendships were made. They moved to Winona, Minn., in 2008, to be close to family. Three years later, Pinky lost Gail when she passed away due to complications from Multiple System Atrophy. With the love and support of his daughter, Susan, her family and son, Mark, Pinky was able to remain independent until recently.
In addition to his wife of 60 years, Pinky was preceded in death by his mother, Hazel; father, Gloy; stepmother, Cel; sister, Eunice; brother, Howard; and grandson, Alexander. He is survived by sons, Mark, Steve (Bernadine), Charlie, Tony (Sherri) and Pat (Diane); and daughters, Sue (Wayne Kimber), Cheryl and Angie (Keith Hopkins); 20 grandchildren; and 30 great-grandchildren.
Due to COVID, private graveside services were held for family members at St. Patrick’s Cemetery in Lanesboro, where the American Legion Leon J. Wetzel Post 9 of Winona provided military honors.
Pinky’s family wishes to thank Lake Winona Manor and Winona Health Hospice for their loving and compassionate care during this difficult time.
Online condolences or memories may be left for Pinky’s family at www.watkowski-mulyck.com.
Watkowski-Mulyck Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements.