Dr. Robert C. Bennett
November 10, 1933 – February 19, 2021
Robert Charles Bennett passed away Friday, the 19th of February 2021, in Houston, Texas, at the age of 87. Robert was born in Houston on the10th of November 1933, to Charles Crane and Truman Herring Bennett. Bob graduated from San Jacinto High School and received the bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Music Education from University of Houston, the Fellow of Trinity College London diploma in the Art of Organ Playing, and the Doctor of Music degree from Southwestern University, Georgetown. Robert married Barbara Ann Wilhite on the 12th of November 1954.
Having already served as Assistant Organist at South Main Baptist Church, Organist at Riverside Baptist Church, and Choir Director at St. Philip Presbyterian church, at the age of 20 Bob was appointed Organist at St. Luke’s Methodist Church, Houston, where he served for 42 years, becoming Organist-Choirmaster and ultimately Diaconal Minister of Music and Fine Arts. His wife, Barbara, also worked there for 25 years. Dr. Bennett designed St. Luke’s pipe organ and was honored with St. Luke’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
Dr. Bennett’s acknowledged expertise in hymnody was affirmed with his ap-pointment to the Hymnal Committee of the United Methodist Church, where he served as Chair of the Subcommittee on Tunes, resulting in the 1988 publication of the United Methodist Hymnal that is still in use today. He was later named Editor of the Music Supplement II for the United Methodist Hymnal, published in 1993. He also served as President of The Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and Worship Arts.
Dr. Bennett performed organ concerts at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, and one of his favorite organs, the Air Force Academy Chapel in Colorado Springs, among many others.
He became a lifetime charter member of the American Guild of Organists in 1944 serving at local, regional, and national levels, beginning as Treasurer of the Houston Chapter at age 13, and later as a member of its National Council. In recognition of his 70 years of service to the American Guild of Organists, Bob was honored with the Edward A. Hansen national Leadership Award at its 2016 national convention.
Robert is preceded in death by his parents, his sister Ethel Jean Bennett Read, and his wife Barbara Ann Wilhite Bennett. Survivors include son Gary Bennett and wife, Gray of Plano, Texas; son, Kerry Bennett and wife, Pam of Galveston, Texas; three grandchildren, Alison Bennett Shipley and husband Allen, Jennifer Bennett Mills and husband Bryan, and Sam Bennett; great-granddaughter Margo Shipley; along with numerous other relatives and friends.
Friends are cordially invited to a visitation with the family from five o’clock in the afternoon until seven o’clock in the evening on Friday, the 26th of February, in the Jasek Chapel of Geo. H. Lewis & Sons, 1010 Bering Drive in Houston.
The memorial service will be held at two o’clock in the afternoon on Saturday, the 27th of February, in the Sanctuary of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, 3471 Westheimer Road in Houston, where Dr. Tom Pace, Senior Pastor, is to officiate. For those unable to attend the memorial in-person, virtual attendance will be available via live stream by visiting Dr. Bennett's online memorial tribute page at GeoHLewis.com and clicking “Join Livestream”, there guests may share memories and words of comfort and condolence electronically with his family.
In lieu of customary remembrances, memorial contributions to honor Robert’s life may be directed toward St. Luke’s United Methodist Church - Bennett Arts Endowment Fund, 3471 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77027 (www.stlukesmethodist.org).
Friday, February 26, 2021
Saturday, February 27, 2021
Dr. Robert C. Bennett
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February 28, 2021
Uncle Robert was such a giving loving and kind man. He loved to entertain, He loved to cook that special Thanksgiving dinner that we all so enjoyed and 50-60 years removed, we still remember. He was not only a master musician( my, could he make that organ sound powerful and beautiful) but he was moreover a wonderful people person. He loved life and loved all of us that intersected with him .
Uncle Robert, you and Aunt Barbara were always there for us at our recitals, at our games , at our graduations, weddings and at important intervals in life. You were “the glue” that held our ( far removed) family together. We are forever grateful for your love, and for your desire to stay in touch. You will be sorely missed.
Going forward we will remember the small things that you did for us , the time that you invested and the many happy memories that we hold so dear. Gary, and Kerry and your families; we love you and are praying for you as you move on with life without Uncle Robert.
February 27, 2021
Bob was my organ teacher when I was in high school and active at Bethany UMC. My lessons were on Saturday mornings and Bob was always very patient with someone with limited musical abilities. I became a UM pastor retiring ten years ago and living in upstate New York. But music has always been an important part of my life and much of that appreciation came from Bob.
February 27, 2021
Dr. Bennett was a passionate and skilled singer and musician. I was able to be a part of that passion in his church choirs as well as play basketball with his son Kerry and sing in the all city choir with his son Gary.
He was way ahead of his time in many areas of music, but it came naturally to him.
Good times at St Luke’s in the 60’s and 70’s.
Now with Barbara again. He gave what Christ wants us to give, loving and guiding others.
Rest In Peace,
February 27, 2021
What a great man Bob Bennett was! Whether teaching music, directing the legendary music program of St. Luke’s, volunteering his leadership to chair 3 (!) national conventions of the Am. Guild of Organists, or hosting a Chancel Choir party with Barbara in their home, he was a GIVER—always giving with joy and enthusiasm. In my 15 years of working with Bob , I never heard him complain or even admit that he was tired. He was always available to talk to and seek guidance from, no matter how busy he was.
Bob was a great light, and a deeply cherished friend who showed us how to live life to the fullest, and left to us a musical heritage much the richer for his having lived. I’m so blessed to have known him, and gotten to work with him, and to have enjoyed his precious friendship.
February 26, 2021
Bob was a friend to musicians around the city, regardless of their level of music proficiency or church affiliation. He was generous with both his time and resources. Bob gave his organ library to the Music Department at HBU a few years ago when he moved into Clarewood House. The collection is a testimony to Bob’s gift as an organist. The music is housed in the HBU organ practice rooms, a treasured legacy of this incredible musician and true friend to so many.
February 25, 2021
Dr. Bennett was my first organ teacher. He was kind and patient, and such a good teacher! He was an inspiration to church musicians in Houston for many years, all the while humble and generous. Rest in peace, good and faithful servant.