Tommie Bennett

Obituary of Tommie Bennett

Life Legacy A Mass of Christian Burial for Tommie Carolyn Pope Bennett, 84, of Frankfort, will be celebrated at 11 a.m. on Thursday, September 18th at the Good Shepherd Catholic Church, Leestown Road. The family will receive visitors beginning at 10 a.m. prior to the Mass. Visitation will be held on Wednesday, September 17th at Capital City Christian Church at 3 p.m., followed by a Life Celebration Service at 7 p.m. Mrs. Bennett died on September 14, 2014 after a long illness. Born on October 5, 1929 in Columbia, Mississippi, Tommie was the widow of Michael “Mike” Doherty Bennett of Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Tommie met Mike at the University of Southern Mississippi, where she majored in vocal performance and was the charter president of her sorority, Kappa Delta. They were married on June 29, 1951 in Frankfort at Good Shepherd Catholic Church. After living briefly in Memphis, Tommie and Mike returned to Frankfort after the birth of their second child. After her sixth child was born, Tommie returned to school and was awarded her Certificate for Elementary Education. She later earned her Master’s from Georgetown College. Tommie taught for 24 years at Bald Knob Elementary School, where she was revered by both students and colleagues. After she became known as an effective disciplinarian, other teachers began to send their challenging students to her for a little “correction.” Her reputation for discipline, however, was overshadowed by the respect she earned for the love and concern she showed for her students. More than once she got lost on the back roads of Bald Knob, trying to find the home of a struggling or hungry student so she could help them in some way. Her compassion extended well beyond her role as teacher. The family home on Third Street was a refuge for young people, particularly students from Frankfort High, where her eight children attended around the corner. Tommie had a zest and a joy for life, and was known for her big heart and hearty laugh. If her first love was family, her second was music. Her rich singing voice filled the Bennett home, and she was in demand as a soloist for local weddings, social gatherings, and funerals. She served as a cantor, choir member, and ultimately Choir Director at her church home, Good Shepherd Catholic Church, where she had been a member for over 50 years. After becoming a widow, Tommie was thrilled to have earned a spot with the prestigious choral group, the Lexington Singers. She performed with the group as long as her health would allow, and was able to go with them on a European singing tour as well as to perform with them at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Tommie even dipped her toe in musical theatre, performing as a nun in the Bluegrass Theatre Guild’s “Nunsense” and as Ptommie the Pteradactyl in “The Cat and the Castle.” She also delighted in encouraging the musical pursuits of her children and grandchildren, giving them direction and attending their various piano recitals, symphony performances, and even rock concerts. After she retired from teaching at Bald Knob in 1993, she began to teach piano and voice from her living room. She kept a roster of over 30 students per week up until 2010, when her declining health forced her second retirement. Tommie enjoyed playing bridge with her husband Mike and their friends for many years. After Mike died in 1985, Tommie continued her bridge hobby as long as she was able. She was very proud to have passed her love and knowledge of bridge to others, including some of her grandchildren and their friends. A true sports fan, Tommie loved to watch her athletic children and grandchildren compete in football, basketball, baseball, soccer, swimming, tennis, racquetball, and probably more. She and Mike often spent their evenings listening to the Cincinnati Reds on radio, while shelling beans or giving haircuts to reluctant children. As evidence of her amazing spirit, Tommie was both a UK and a UL basketball fan. She was also was proud to belong to the Susanna Hart Shelby Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). True to her Mississippi roots, Tommie was an accomplished cook of traditional Southern fare, and her fried chicken was legendary in Frankfort. Each New Year’s Day, friends and family gathered at the Bennett home to feast on chicken, black-eyed peas, cabbage, cornbread, rice and gravy, and chocolate pie. Her generous and compassionate heart always made for an interesting Thanksgiving. One never knew if the family meal would be shared with the poor family she met at the grocery store, or the neighbors who had just moved in next door. Though Tommie “only” had eight children, many others called her “Mom.” Her children and adopted children alike sought her counsel on where to go to school, or even whom to marry. You could count on three things when you got advice from Tommie: it would be to the point, she wouldn’t pull any punches, and it would encourage you for a lifetime. She leaves a legacy of eight college-educated children, dozens of students who knew her as a “favorite” teacher who inspired them to aim high, and many piano and voice students and grandchildren who went on to study music in college or pursue a career in the music industry due to her influence. Tommie’s survivors include children Tom (Terri) Bennett; Patty (Steve) Brooks; Mary Anna (John, deceased) Rogers; Carol (Tom) Current; Jamey (Angelina) Bennett; John (Kim) Bennett; Lucy (Joe) Karsner, Martin “Buddy” (Shawnee) Bennett; grandchildren Kate Bennett and Sarah Bennett; John (Erik Eaker) Brooks and Beth Brooks; Doherty (Tim) Rogers Reynolds, Rachel (Michael) Rogers Bouchard, and Molly Rogers; Chris (Amanda) Current, Will Current, Mary Beth Current, and David Current; Regan, Michael, and Thomas Bennett; Hannah and Ben Bennett; Grace and Peyton Karsner; Bradley, Clayton, and Evan Bennett; great-grandchildren Annika Brooks, Callan and Olivia Reynolds, and Alexandra Current; sister-in-law Ellen Bennett Walker; and numerous nieces and nephews and their children and grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her parents, Tom and Mary Ann Reeves Pope, sister Patricia “Pat” Walker, and brother Archie Pope. Special to Tommie were her “bridge buddies,” including Betty Smith, Melissa Wheaton, Sandy Conley, Ryan Burnette, Susan Riddell, Ben Hall, and Marie Tychonievich, as well as her many caregivers both at home and at the Masonic Home in Shelbyville. Mrs. Bennett’s sons and sons-in-law will serve as pallbearers. The family welcomes flowers, but would especially appreciate a charitable donation to the Lexington Singers, P.O. Box 23002, Lexington, Kentucky, 40523; The St. Vincent DePaul Society, 315 Wallace Avenue, Frankfort, Kentucky 40601; and the handbell choir, c/o the Masonic Home, P.O. Box 909, Shelbyville, Kentucky, 40065.
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