WILMINGTON — Nelson ‘Tate’ Bennett Sr., 83, formerly of Ash, N.C., and Conway, S.C., passed away Sunday, Feb. 19, 2017.
He was born in Ash, N.C., June 23, 1933, and was the son of the late Nelson and Edna Jacobs Bennett.
Tate served his country honorably in the 101st Airborne Division of the U.S. Army and was a dedicated member of Fellowship Baptist Church in Wilmington.
Surviving to cherish his memories are his devoted wife of 43 years, Iris Chestnut Bennett; loving children, Nelson Tate Bennett Jr., and his wife, Stacey, Michael Charles Bennett, and his wife, Svetlana, Randall Bennett, and his wife, Joan, Janice Sanders, and her husband, Dwight, Linda Wiemer, and her husband, Klaus, and the Rev. Craig Holmes, and his wife, Patricia; surrogate son and daughter, Frank and Marsha Schwinn; grandchildren, Savannah Bennett, Cary Bennett, Andy Bennett, and his wife, Ashley, Dawn Farmer, Matthew Bennett, Jake Bennett, Jackie Bennett, James Bennett, Tina Wilson, and her husband, Matthew, Baxter Stegall, and his wife, Britainy, James Stegall, and his wife, Lauren, Dylan Wiemer, Christian Wiemer, Greston Holmes, Heather Scheeringa, and her husband, Reuben, and Courtney Lorenzo, and her husband, Anthony; great-grandchildren, Ashley Ray, Nicole Ray, Makenzie Ray, Gage Bennett, Ethan Bennett, Zane Bennett, Skylar Bennett, Rylee Wilson, Reagan Wilson, Reese Wilson, Rachel Wilson, Rose Wilson, Ryan Wilson, Baxter Stegall Jr., Tre Holmes, Bennett Holmes, Baxley Holmes, Cael Scheeringa, Trinity Scheeringa, Aiden Scheeringa, Keegan Lorenzo and Oliver Tate Lorenzo; sisters, Jackie Smith, and her husband, Bryan, and Mary Zill Dawson, and her husband, David; and numerous nephews, nieces and friends who loved Tate dearly.
Tate was a loving husband and caring father, grandfather and brother. He was known for his zest for life and always living life to its fullest. After being a star athlete at Waccamaw High School and joining the basketball team at Wake Forest College (University), Tate joined the U.S. Army. After his stint in the U.S. Army, he joined GMAC, where he covered the state of South Carolina, working in finance for car dealerships. After GMAC, he joined Prince Tire and Body Chevrolet so that he would not have to travel as much and could spend time with his children.
While at Prince Chevrolet, on a dare from owners, he actually started an NCSCC (NASCAR) race at Myrtle Beach. Tate was an avid gardener and enjoyed sharing the fruits and vegetables with his neighbors and friends.
Later, Tate was involved in a horrific accident when a tire and rim exploded. After the accident, when on life support, he could hear his doctors saying he would never live through the night; but as usual, there was no quitting with Tate. With his determination, he decided he was going to prove everyone wrong and survived, even though he endured 12 surgeries and lost an arm. Even after all Tate went through, he later started Horry Tire with Julius Derrick in Conway, S.C.
After Horry Tire, Tate joined Horry Printers in Conway, S.C., which lead him to the Wilmington Morning Star News in Wilmington, N.C., as a salesperson. Due to his unparalleled work ethic, Tate became the top salesman in his first year with the Star News and continued at the top for the next 20 years, eventually becoming the sales development manager.
Tate was an avid sportsman and in addition to being a high school basketball star and a Wake Forest Demon Deacon in college, he was a world-class volleyball player until losing his arm. After losing his dominate left arm and learning to do everything with his right arm, as usual, he faced every challenge and learned to play golf. He participated in and won many Super Ball golf tournaments. In addition, he channeled his energy into refereeing high school basketball and umpiring high school baseball.
Tate loved everyone, but had a special ability to connect with young people. He was actively involved with founding two high school sports booster clubs, coaching multiple basketball and baseball teams, compiling 43 championships. He also rebuilt the girl’s high school basketball program at Wilmington Christian Academy to playoff contenders.
Tate, with all of his accomplishments, was first and foremost dedicated to his Christian belief and God. He read the entire bible every year at least once, and one year, read the bible from cover to cover six times, his favorite Bible verse being Joshua 1:9. He worked tirelessly with the churches he attended over his life, and his last wishes were that everyone would join him in heaven.
Tate attended Friendship Baptist Church in Ash, N.C., while growing up. After Wake Forest University and his service in the U.S. Army, he joined the First Baptist Church in Conway, S.C. He then followed a calling to Langston Baptist Church, where he used his ability to help build a bus ministry, setting a national record for having 183 people bused to church one Sunday on the route he worked as the bus pastor. After moving to Wilmington, N.C., Tate was actively involved with Grace Baptist Church for over 30 years, where he was faithful in his attendance. He served as a Sunday school teacher, and assisted with building programs for Grace and their school ministry, Wilmington Christian Academy.
After 30 years, he followed God’s path and joined Fellowship Baptist Church, teaching Sunday School as needed, and was responsible for many new members joining Fellowship. Following suit with the talent Tate had from God, he had an impact on many of the youth at Fellowship Baptist, who visited him almost daily until his passing.
With Tate’s great sense of humor, compassion, wisdom and quiet support, he was a mentor to his family and many others in his church and community. He was a man of great integrity. He will surely be missed, but treasured memories will continue to live in the hearts of those who knew and loved Tate Bennett.
Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 23, at Fellowship Baptist Church, 5709 Murrayville Road, Wilmington, NC 28405; with Pastor Arnold Griffin and former Pastor Jim Herchenhahn officiating. The family will receive friends from 10 to 11 a.m., one hour prior the funeral service at Fellowship Baptist Church. Burial will be held at 3 p.m. Thursday at Bennett Family Cemetery, 2206 Ash Little River Road, Ash, NC 28420.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests, that memorial gifts be given to Fellowship Baptist Church’s Mission Fund, 5709 Murrayville Road, Wilmington, NC 28405, in memory of Nelson ‘Tate’ Bennett Sr.