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Services and a memorial for lifelong Arroyo Grande resident, historian, businessman and community activist Gordon Bennett are set for Saturday, Sept. 3.

Bennett died Aug. 8 at age 85 following a long illness and slowly failing health.

A descendant of the Arroyo Grande pioneering Loomis, Jatta, Stevenson and Bennett families, he and cousin John Loomis became well-known as pranksters in their youth.

He played tennis, football and trumpet while a student at Arroyo Grande Union High School, where he graduated in 1944.

He joined the U.S. Navy shortly before graduating and served with Fast Carrier Task Force 58 in the Battle of Okinawa during World War II.

Bennett married Manetta Wildharber in 1947, and together they had three children — Stan, Shirley and Ken. 

He was a partner in E.C. Loomis & Sons Insurance, retiring in the 1990s.

A history and railroad buff, Bennett and cousin John Loomis began collecting historical items from the Arroyo Grande Valley and surrounding area in the 1960s.

Their collection became the vast Bennett-Loomis Archives in the 1970s. 

Through the archives, the pair published two books, “The Terrible Tragedy of 1886,” which chronicled a local murder and hanging, and “The Old Days,” a memoir of their youth together.

He is survived by his wife, Manetta; three children and a son-in-law; three grandchildren; a sister-in-law; nieces, nephews and cousins; and many friends.

Services conducted by Eleanor Shumway, guardian-in-chief of the Temple of the People, will be held at 1 p.m. Sept. 3 in the Builders Grove in Halcyon.

A memorial will follow at about 2 p.m. at the Rotary Bandstand in Heritage Square Park in the Village of Arroyo Grande.

Donations in Bennett’s honor may be made to the South County Historical Society or Hospice Partners of the Central Coast.

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