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The Rev. Raymond E. Bennett, a retired elementary teacher who served as associate pastor of Mayfair-Plymouth Congregational Christian Church, died Saturday at Aspen Grove Assisted Living in Lambertville. He was 85.
Mr. Bennett, better known as Pastor Ray, died from complications of Parkinson’s Disease and dementia, said his daughter, Pamela Crots. He had lived the last 11 months in the assisted living facility.
He was in the ministry at churches in Michigan and Ohio for 56 years and taught at Bedford Public Schools for 28 years.
Mrs. Crots said her father started teaching at Jackman Road Elementary in 1962. She said he was instrumental in establishing the Outdoor Science Camp in the school system for fifth graders.
The annual excursion involved students and teachers traveling to High Hope Camp in Indiana for a week during the school year for studies in science.
“For a lot of kids it was the first time away from their parents,” Mrs. Crots said.
Mr. Bennett retired from teaching in 1990. He then served as associate pastor at Mayfair-Plymouth Congregational Christian Church on Bennett at Alexis roads from October, 1992, to December, 2006.
Mrs. Crots said her father assisted at the pulpit, led Bible-study groups, and made hospital visits.
Mr. Bennett also was involved for more than 30 years at Toledo Gospel Rescue Mission, where he was a past treasurer and board member.
A native of Nashville, Mich., he graduated in 1946 from Hastings High School in Hastings, Mich.
Mrs. Crots said her father worked in a grocery during high school to support his mother and siblings after his parents divorced.
“He was the oldest and that is what he had to do,” she said.
He continued his education at Houghton College, earning a bachelor’s degree in theology in 1950. He married the former Marie Root on June 9, 1950.
He was ordained as a minister in the Wesleyan Church and served in four congregations in Michigan before he started his teaching career.
The churches were in Rives Junction, North Irving, Talmadge, and Deland Wesleyan Church in Lambertville.
While Mr. Bennett was a teacher, he held many positions at Whiteford Wesleyan Church in Ottawa Lake from 1972 to 1992, including serving on the church board, teaching Sunday school, and accompanying senior citizens on trips.
Surviving are his wife, Marie; son, Stephen; daughters, Katherine Holcomb and Pamela Crots; brother, Alton; sister, Norma Weeks; eight grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be from 2 to 8 p.m. at Urbanski’s Bedford Funeral Chapel, 8300 Lewis Ave., Temperance.
A service to celebrate his life will be held at 11 a.m. Friday in Whiteford Wesleyan Church, Ottawa Lake, where visitation will begin at 10 a.m.
The family suggest tributes to Toledo Gospel Rescue Mission, Mayfair-Plymouth Congregational Christian Church, or Hospice of Northwest Ohio.
— Mark Reiter