Dick Bennett’s house on Kurrley Street now sits quietly across from East Side Park, which was once an empty field until 1983.
Bennett, who died Oct. 1, 2015, in Toledo, loved living on the east side of Delaware. He served on the committee to develop the neighborhood park enjoyed by many residents including his sons Shawn, Erin, who now live in Toledo, and Kris of Cleveland.
The city of Delaware received a request a name change for the park in honor of Bennett.
“He lived a life of service to others,” Shawn said.
Bennett lived most of his life in Delaware, except when he served in the U.S. Air Force from 1960 to 1968. He was a police officer in Delaware for 20 years serving various positions including as the department’s firearms instructor. It was when he crossed paths with Pat Yankie, chief deputy of the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office.
He was “one of my training officers and I quickly learned how much he cared about the Delaware community,” Yankie said.
With approval from Bennett’s family, Yankie approached the city of Delaware’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board in April asking the park to be renamed in Bennett’s honor.
“I can’t say enough good things about Dick,” Yankie said.
Bennett also worked as head of Delaware County Veterans Services before retiring in 2012 to take care of his wife Carol, who lost her battle with Alzheimer’s disease in 2013, Erin said.
Shawn said his father and mother, Carol, were all about serving others including welcoming children into their home, which was across from the park.
And the youth group of New Beginnings United Methodist Church, 385 E. William St., continue to use the East Side Park to this day.
“Dick was really instrumental in getting that (park) running,” said Dave Carter, the church’s lead pastor. “He served his community his whole life,” Carter said.
Shawn and Erin said renaming the park would be an honor if the city granted the request.
Parks and Natural Resources Director Ted Miller is now working to develop a naming policy for the advisory board to recommend to City Council. The policy would be brought up for discussion in October.
But the proposed policy now includes criteria that a person needs to be deceased for a minimum of three years.
It “originally added to ensure that the person’s significance and contributions were validated and it was commonly used in several naming policies,” Miller said. “In looking into this further I will probably suggest a one-year waiting period would be acceptable and appropriate to avoid emotional reactions.”
Yankie said the board is on the right track in crafting a naming policy.
“I think the city is doing the right thing,” he said.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of the story had the wrong name in the following quote: “Dick was really instrumental in getting that (park) running,” said Dave Carter, the church’s lead pastor.
Brandon Klein can be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.