Cover photo for Kenneth Alan Bennett's Obituary
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1935 Kenneth 2014

Kenneth Alan Bennett

October 3, 1935 — February 6, 2014


Kenneth Alan Bennett, retired professor, Biological Anthropology, University of Wisconsin Madison, passed away on Feb. 6th, 2014 at Agrace Hospice after battling Multiple Myeloma.

Born Oct. 3, 1935 in Butler Oklahoma, he grew up at a time that wearing a holster and cowboy hat were the norm. He developed an interest in Archeology and artifacts at an early age, scouring the sand hills of West Texas. He attended Odessa Jr. College for two years and received his AS degree in 1956 As a young man, he worked the oil fields and loved being high up in the derricks. He was drafted in to the army and served 2 years of duty. Upon returning home, he met Helen Maze and a romance ensued that would last for 54 years. They married on Sept. 6, 1959. After moving to Austin, Texas to attend the University of Texas, he began working towards his BA, receiving it in 1961. He furthered his education at UA, Tucson earning his MA degree, then achieved his dream of PHD in Biological Anthropology in 1967. One of his fondest memories was going out in the desert picnicking in the sand dunes with his family. The next move was to Eugene, Oregon where he was employed as assistant professor at University of Oregon. In 1970, the UW Madison Anthropology dept. offered him the position of Associate prof. and then full professor in 1975. Among his many credits are producing nine PHD students, authoring "The Fundamentals of Biological Anthropology", "The Field Guide for Human Skeletal Identification", and a nomination for the Distinguished Teaching Award. Apart from academia, he specialized in Forensic Anthropology, working with the state crime lab from 1972-1997. He was instrumental in helping with some of Wisconsin's famous criminal investigations including The Chimney Man and Jeffrey Dahmer. He enjoyed his retirement by feeding his intellect. A voracious reader on subjects ranging from Botany, Volcanoes, Astronomy, Economics and Politics, etc.. he was a wordsmith, mathematician, and a cross word puzzle aficionado, working them in ink and throwing away the answers. One of his greatest pleasures was their backyard garden. They challenged themselves to increase the yield out of a 10' x 20' plot and last summer grew over 4000 tomatoes from sixteen plants. He was proud of making the best dirt in Wisconsin. Their other source of garden pride was their V12 juice. Thousands of jars were canned, coveted and consumed by friends and family.

He is survived by his wife, Helen, of Madison; two daughters, Letitia (Doug) Erdman, Cheri Bennett; two grandchildren, Krista and Jack of Fort Atkinson; sister, Judy of Colorado Springs, Co.. He is further survived by other relatives and friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents and a sister.

It was his choice to be cremated without services. The family would like to thank Agrace Hospice for the tender care they gave to him and to us.

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