Donald Walter Bennett

December 2, 1927November 4, 2018

Donald Walter Bennett died peacefully on Sunday, November 4, 2018 at the age of ninety. He is survived by his beloved wife of 69 years, Esther; his sister, Mary Brown; his brother, Charles (Bonnie) Bennett; his children, Daniel Bennett, Susan (Michael) Smelker, Elizabeth (David) Goodine, Charles Bennett, Kitty (Bill) Dowding, and Mary (Noah) Isaac; as well as 10 grandchildren; 17 great-grandchildren, and numerous nieces and nephews.

Don was a long time Lutheran who loved his Lord and sought to serve him in every aspect of his life.

At the age of 17, he joined the United States Navy and when the war ended he returned home to Toledo to attend university and to work as an orderly at Toledo Hospital where he met Esther, the love of his life.

The two married and later, with two children in tow, they set out for Michigan where Don joined the Michigan State Police. In his years with the MSP, he worked as a trooper, as well as a detective and crime scene investigator. He earned a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice at Michigan State University and eventually rose to the position of director of the crime laboratory; and then to Captain. Following his retirement from the State Police, Don became Vice President of Corporate Security for Michigan National Bank.

Still, after retirement from the bank, Don could not stop working and decided to direct his energies more fully toward his Church which he served at the local, the national and the international level. He was deeply involved in Lutheran Hour Ministries (LHM), serving in a number of capacities including President of the International Lutheran Layman’s League and then Interim Executive Director of LHM. Don had a great love for travel and along with his soulmate, Esther, found immense joy in the people of God whom he met all over the world. There was a special place in his heart for the church at Okumenyi, Nigeria, where he visited two separate times and with whom he continued to correspond until the time of his death. He also found tremendous joy in the deep and abiding friendships he found closer to home. He was an active member for many years at Trinity Lutheran Church in Lansing where he held positions as elder, Sunday School Superintendent and Church President. In his later years, he continued his volunteer service as a member of St Luke Lutheran Church in Haslett; and also served on the Board of Regents of Concordia University - Ann Arbor, kept up with MSP matters, and volunteered at Sparrow Hospital.

One dear friend of Don’s described him as “a tireless worker for the kingdom; a man whose life was well lived.” He will be remembered for all of these things but mostly, and especially, as a devoted and loving husband, brother, father, grandfather and friend - and for his sense of humor, which he kept sharp until the end and which managed to put a smile even on faces otherwise filled with sadness.

He was preceded in death by his father, Walter Bennett; his mother, Yanula Swogger; and his much loved aunt and uncle, Grace and Harold Nicholson.

Visitation will take place on Wednesday, Nov 7 from 6-8 PM at Gorsline-Runciman East Lansing.

Services will be held at St. Luke Lutheran Church, 5589 Van Atta Rd, Haslett, MI, 48840 on Thursday, November 8 at 10:00 AM, with visitation one hour prior to the service.

Interment will follow at Chapel Hill Memorial Gardens.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be given to Lutheran Hour Ministries, 660 Mason Ridge Center, St. Louis, MO 63141,; St Luke Lutheran Church, 5589 Van Atta Rd, Haslett, MI 48840,; or to the Lutheran Church at Okumenyi, Nigeria, c/o Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, 9301 Chef Menteur Hwy, New Orleans, LA 70127.

Memories and condolences may be shared at


  • Nathan Bennett
  • Jeremy Smelker
  • Christopher Smelker
  • Jacob Goodine
  • Adam Goodine
  • Samuel Goodine
  • Ian Yelinek
  • Daniel Yelinek


  • Visitation Wednesday, November 7, 2018
  • Visitation Thursday, November 8, 2018
  • Funeral Service Thursday, November 8, 2018

Donald Walter Bennett

have a memory or condolence to add?

Ralph Boudreau

February 17, 2019

Don thank you for your service. I pray that the Good Lord is holding you and your family close.

Ralph Boudreau, Jr.
MSP Retiree


November 10, 2018

Esther & family--

God bless you! Don's smiles and kind words were always welcome. Others were uplifted by his positive words and good action in the LLL (LHM). May the Lord bring a special measure of His presence into your lives. In Christ--

Gene and Margaret Reardanz

November 9, 2018

Esther, our condolences to you and your family at the loss of Don. We have many memories of the times we spent in LHM with Don and you. It was always an encouragement to our faith and the work of LHM. Margaret would always enjoy hearing about the lives of your children. I enjoyed working with Don in the Michigan District. He will be missed by many.

Gene and Margaret

Jim & Carol Burdick

November 8, 2018

We were sorry to hear about Don's passing. Don was Jim's protégé as Master of Ceremonies for the Michigan State Police Retirees' Annual Banquet. It was a proud moment for Jim and Don taught him well. Our thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family,
God's Blessings,
Jim & Carol Burdick

Sue Bourdon

November 8, 2018

My memories go way back - working for Lieutenant/Captain Bennett (Don) at the MSP Crime Lab was especially rewarding. I have always considered him a friend and a gracious man. I will never forget when I saw him at Hope Lutheran Church and discovered he was Suzie's father. He has always talked of the pride he had in his children and grand children...Don considered himself blessed and Loved the Lord, and it doesn't get any better than that.

I am sorry for your loss,

Sue Bourdon

Katie Gehner

November 8, 2018

Esther, Marty and I send our love from Connecticut. You are in our prayers as you attend to your loss.


Bob Pangman

November 7, 2018

Dear Esther and family,
I consider it a real privilege to have known Don over the years. His faith and dedication to the Lord's work helped light up the world that he touched. May you find comfort in knowing that he now rests in the presence of Jesus.

Barbara Benford

November 7, 2018

Dear Esther,
My heartfelt condolences and prayers for God's peace for you and your family as you grieve Don's loss. I also share in the joy of the knowledge of his entrance into heaven. Whenever I saw the two of you, you radiated God's love and joy. May your memories and the love of friends and family comfort you.
Barb Benford

Gaylene LaBore

November 7, 2018

Esther, please accept our sympathies on the death of your dear husband, Don. I remember him well from working with him at Lutheran Hour Ministries, and we remember you also from the Lutheran Hour Ministries tours conducted by Dr. Oswald Hoffmann which you and Don were part of.

My husband, Dick, joins me in sharing the Resurrection with you and your family!


Gaylene and Rev. Richard LaBore

William Eick

November 6, 2018

Dear Esther and Family -
My Prayers Have been and will continue for You.
What wonderful Memories of our times together especially with the many Conventions and LLL Meetings that We
attended - Esther You were always there too with Don - Shirley and I always enjoyed your company.
May God Continue to Bless Your Family!!