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William L. ‘Bill’ Bennett Sr., 93, traveled the world spreading the gospel

Dr. William L. “Bill” Bennett Sr., 93, left this world to be with his Lord and Savior Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018. Dr. Bennett was born June 26, 1924, in Brunswick County on a small farm near Calabash, N.C.

He was always a hard worker and determined to become educated. He put himself through school with scholarships and hard work. He received his B.A. degree from Wake Forest. He received his M.A. and M.Div. (Master of Divinity) from Duke University. He then married the love of his life, Doris Palmer Bennett, and pastored a church in Greensboro. They had three sons, Bill Jr., Philip and David.

The family moved to New Orleans in 1961 where he attended the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and received a Ph.D. in theology. They moved to Memphis where he pastored for four years at Speedway Terrace Baptist Church. The family moved to Fort Smith, Ark., in 1967 where Dr. Bennett became pastor of the 8,000-member First Baptist Church for 20 years. While in Fort Smith, he was a leader in the Southern Baptist Convention, met several U.S. presidents and regularly attended the Presidential Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C.

He and Doris then moved to Houston, Texas, where they lived for a while before settling down in Wilmington where they spent the rest of their lives. Doris passed away in 2010 at the age of 87. Two of their sons, Philip and David, developed serious health conditions. Philip died in 2012 and David died in 2016. Bill Jr. is a licensed physician in the field of ophthalmology.

When Dr. Bennett and Dr. Bennett Jr. were together, Dr. Bennett would often say, “I am Dr. Bennett and my son is Dr. Bennett. The difference is that he practices and I preach.” Dr. Bennett always had a good sense of humor and was full of jokes, most were corny, but endearing. He was always upbeat and let nothing get him down. Even when Doris died, he would say, “You haven’t lost something if you know where it is.” They were married 58 years.

In Wilmington, Dr. Bennett founded Mentoring Men for The Master, which grew and spread to several states. He was chaplain of Southeastern Seminary at Wake Forest. He was also the general chairman of trustees for Alpha Ministries International and made numerous trips to India where the ministry is based. He and Doris traveled the world spreading the gospel, and once even helped smuggle Bibles into China back when it was illegal. More recently, he went to Russia and had the opportunity to speak to 200,000 future ministers of the gospel.

His passion was mentoring young men to become more godly, better fathers and husbands. He is credited with saving many marriages, and many of his students are now ministers of the gospel. He wrote numerous books. Dr. Bennett and Doris spent their lives spreading the gospel and helping others, and impacted countless thousands of people. They are now back together and in the arms of Jesus.

Survivors are William (Cyndi) Bennett, Alice Bennett and Kathi Bennett. Also surviving are eight grandchildren, Lauren (Blake) Nichols, Lindsey Bennett, Palmer Bennett, and fiancée, Rachel, Miranda (Payton) Williams, Joanna Bennett, Breezy Ivey, Christa (Jay) Neal and Angela (Lin) Poff; and nine great-grandchildren.

A funeral service will be held at 2 p.m. Monday, Jan. 15, at Scotts Hill Baptist Church. The family will be at the church to receive friends from 1 to 2 p.m. prior to services. Interment will follow in the Bennett Cemetery in Brunswick County.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you please consider a donation in Dr. Bennett’s name to Mentoring Men for the Master, International, 1213 Culbreth Drive, Wilmington, NC 28405; or Lower Cape Fear Hospice, 1414 Physicians Drive, Wilmington, NC 28401.

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