To Sandusky school board members, he was simply an inspiration.
On Monday, they agreed: They all should strive to emulate former board member Clinton Bennett Jr., a highly influential member of the Sandusky community.
The group paid its respects to Bennett, 91, who died Saturday morning at Stein Hospice Care Center.
His funeral is 11 a.m. Saturday at Ebenezer Baptist Church, 1215 Pierce St.
Bennett joined the Sandusky school board after he retired as a district janitor and served from 1993 to 2004. He also returned to the board for a short term in 2007.
“He was my mentor when I first started, and I could never address him as anything but Mr. Bennett” said board president Tom Patterson, who served alongside Bennett for two years. “My prayers and thoughts are with his family. He was a tremendous gentleman in all respects”
Monday’s meeting began with a moment of silence in Bennett’s honor.
At its end, Patterson, as well as board members Brigitte Green-Churchwell and Jeff Krabill, shared memories of him.
Green-Churchwell recalled playing by his Clay Street home, rolling with other children down a nearby hill.
“He’d treat us to candy at the store next door” she said. “He was a very good man”
Krabill, who started the nostalgic conversation, said Bennett was a close friend, and he was able to visit him Friday night, shortly before he died.
“I looked up to him mightily, especially in terms of his service to this board,” Krabill said. “His demeanor, and his understanding of not just school, but life and people, was remarkable. I’m going to miss him a lot”
Earlier this year, board members honored Bennett, among others, when they dedicated their “Decade Room,” a newly refurbished area of the district’s Decatur Street office.
The room features a plaque listing any Sandusky school board member of 10 or more years, including Bennett, and is the new location of the district’s monthly board meetings.