Mr. Eustace Edward Bennett was born June 7, 1924, in Taylors, South Carolina, as the twelfth of fourteen children of the late Preston Asbury and Mattie Smith Bennett. Mr. Bennett attended Taylors Rosenwald School before enlisting in the United States Army where he served in the all-Black 92nd Infantry Division known as the “Buffalo Soldiers” in the South Pacific during World War II. Following an honorable discharge from the military in 1945, he returned home and attended North Carolina A&T State University. After college, he led a notable professional, civic, and religious life.
A Noteworthy Professional Life: In his professional life, Mr. Bennett was a man of many “firsts”. He was the first African American fireman at former Donaldson Air Force Base. In 1964, he became the first African American police officer for the City of Greenville, a position from which he retired after 25 years of faithful service. After retiring, Mr. Bennett went on to become the first African American housing inspector and warrant officer. To add to his many first, Mr. Bennett was the first African American bailiff appointed to the Greenville Municipal Court, an appointment he retained for 19 years.
A Life Engaged in the Community: In his civic life, Mr. Bennett was a charter member of Islam Shrine Grand Temple No. 2; a 54-year member of Mountain City Lodge #22, Palmetto Grand Lodge of South Carolina where he once served as Potentate; and member of the Palmetto State Law Enforcement Officers’ Association. He was also an active father in Jack and Jill of America, Inc., from 1960 to 1982 and, along with his wife, who was a charter member of the Greenville Moles, he actively supported the organization as a Mule.In his spare time, Mr. Bennett was well known for being an excellent golfer. Although he played his entire life, for nearly three decades he could be found on the golf course on Thursday morning with the members of the Carolina Players. His skill on the course garnered him numerous awards but he was most frequently awarded trophies for flight winner and longest drive.
A Faithful Servant of God: Mr. Bennett was a life-long member of Saint Matthew United Methodist Church (Taylors). He served in many capacities including: chairman, Pastor-Parish Committee; chairman, Trustees; member, Charge-Trustee Committee; and a charter member and president, Saint Matthew United Methodist Men.
Family Survivorship: God blessed Mr. Bennett with his loving and devoted wife of 71 years, Georgia Heard Bennett formerly of Abbeville, South Carolina; one son and daughter-in-law, Spencer E. and Sharon P. Bennett of Taylors and one daughter and son-in-law, Pamela B. and Curtis L. Askew of Greer, SC. He has five grandchildren: Orangeburg County Deputy Sheriff Perry A. Bennett of Columbia, SC; Lauren Bennett Gregory of Charlotte, NC; Leslie Bennett (Damion) Hunter, Esq., of Washington, D.C; Marshall E. Bennett, a senior at Hampton University and Bennett L. Askew of Greer and one great-grandson, Bryson S. Gregory of Charlotte, NC. He was the beloved last surviving uncle and patriarch to four generations of the Bennett family.
In Lieu of flowers, the family is requesting that donations be made in honor of Mr. Eustace Bennett to:
St. Matthews United Methodist Church
ATTN: Commitment Fund
2507 Rutherford Road
Greenville, South Carolina 29609