Russell Bennett ('52), a dedicated friend of the University, died of cancer at his home in Excelsior, Minn., on April 7, 2010, at age 80. "No volunteer in the history of the Foundation had a greater impact on our organization and the University than Russ," said President and CEO of the University of Minnesota Foundation Steven L. Goldstein in an email announcement to staff.
Bennett joined the Foundation board in 1982 and leaves a legacy of service and commitment. He chaired the 1985-88 capital campaign, which raised $365 million, topping the public university record, and the 2003 campaign, which raised $1.7 billion. The Foundation established the Russell M. and Elizabeth M. Bennett Chair in Excellence to honor the couple’s exceptional service, Goldstein said.
After serving as a trial officer in the U.S. Navy, Bennett joined what would become Gray, Plant, Mooty, Mooty and Bennett in 1954. He practiced corporate and estate planning law there for the next 55 years, becoming a partner in 1961. His name was added to the firm’s title in 1977.
He served as legal counsel for the Hearing Industries Association (HIA) from 1955-93 and always had a big smile "and an even bigger heart," said Carole Rogin, HIA’s Executive Director. "Despite the fact that his illustrious law career took him way beyond the HIA board table, he stayed with us and guided HIA through the most challenging, developmental years of the industry."
Serving others was a way of life for Bennett, and he generously supported the United Way, American Red Cross, Blake School, and many other organizations and was a trustee at Deephaven’s Church of St. Therese for 30 years. An active alumnus, he "often talked about how important the University was to his life," Goldstein said, and in 2001 the University awarded Bennett an honorary doctorate. An avid sailor, he crossed the Atlantic solo at age 70 in a trimaran he designed.
Bennett is survived by his wife of 58 years; daughters Mary B. Carlton, Chanhassen, Minn., and Robin B. Schoenwetter, Plymouth, Minn.; three grandchildren; three siblings, a stepbrother, and many other relatives.