James Bennett (MNZM, JP) 28th June 1936 - 14th May 2015
In a powerful and moving tribute to a man who had given over fifty years of his life to Hamilton Boys’ High School, Mr James Bennett was farewelled by the entire school who stood as one in silence as the funeral procession left the Hall followed by family and friends. In recognition of the time Mr Bennett was a Hostel Master, Argyle and Maori Performing Arts students performed the School Haka which echoed around the grounds as a sign of the respect felt by all members of HBHS for all Mr Bennett gave to HBHS.
The service, held in the School Hall and officiated by the Very Reverend Peter Rickman, Dean of Waikato, was filled with tributes to Mr Bennett’s generosity, kindness and support of so many of the people he met in his life and time at HBHS. For Headmaster Mrs Hassall it was an honour to speak of Mr Bennett as a dear friend and thank him for his support and love. He was unfailingly supportive of every single aspect of school life, having never missed a senior prizegiving in fifty years. These sentiments were echoed by Mr David Braithwaite who spoke of the kindly eye that Mr Bennett kept over HBHS and reminded the gathering of the need to share laughter and smiles, such an integral part of Mr Bennett’s character at this time of grief. He also spoke of his steelier side and enthusiasm for discipline, his love of sports (rugby and golf in particular) and finished with a reference to the beautiful sculpture of an oyster shell that Mr Bennett and his wife Ann gifted to the school last year to be awarded to the Dux, as a symbol of their personal philosophy. The family tributes were delivered by Jim and Ann’s niece Sam Ward and were finished off by his brother Brian Bennett. Sam shared family stories, tales of Dad’s “selective memory” and holiday trips to Coopers Beach, one of which involved daughter Denise being inadvertently left behind while her brother Shane waved gleefully in the car’s rear window. As with all families, these memories eventually gain their own titles, such as the “Miles Per Hour” incident, where the 1974 switchover from miles to kilometres per hour caught Jim out, and he refused to believe that his carefully applied stickers could be wrong, insisting instead that the police officer take the radar measurement again. His brother Brian Bennett was actually taught by Jim during his first year out from Teachers College, and any failures to address Jim as “Sir” were met with a stern “watch it!” The picture painted of Jim today was a warm-hearted and loving one, filled with gratitude for all that he has given throughout his life. School was his life, and the school will miss him.
Eternal rest grant onto him, O Lord
Let light perpetual shine upon him
May he rest in peaceBack to News