James W. Bennett, “a true old-time Bonacker,” his family said, who opened the Bennett Marine boatyard in Springs in the late 1970s, died on Oct. 10 at home on School Street, where he had lived for 69 years. He was 89 and had been in declining health.
Mr. Bennett, who was called J.W. by his family, was a charter member of the Springs Fire Department. A master woodworker, in his later years he enjoyed building birdhouses and giving them as gifts.
“He was extremely proud of his heritage,” said his family, who in the first half of the 1600s came from Maidstone, England, to Old Saybrook, in the Connecticut Colony, with Lion Gardiner, before arriving in what would become the hamlet of Springs.
He was born at home in Springs on March 16, 1934, to James Dewey Bennett and the former Harriet Havens. He attended the Springs School and East Hampton High School, and went on to serve in the Army from 1956 to 1958 at Fort Ord in California.
Before opening his own boatyard — which his family continues to operate today — Mr. Bennett worked for many years at Robert Story’s Three Mile Harbor Boatyard. Previously he ran the motor-launch service at Palmer’s Boatyard.
He was “a truly devoted family man,” they wrote. He enjoyed fishing, clamming, and boating, and instilled a deep appreciation for those activities in his family.
Mr. Bennett and Bernice Miller were married in 1954. She survives.
He leaves a son, Glenn Bennett, who lives in Springs with his wife, Pam Sellers Bennett, and a daughter, Joan Bennett Lyons, also of Springs, and her husband, Patrick Lyons. Four grandchildren also survive: Kasey Lyons of Patchogue, Jillian Lyons-Gil of Fort Collins, Colo., and Sarajean Bennett and Sadie Bennett, both of Springs.
Mr. Bennett was buried at Green River Cemetery in Springs on Oct. 18. Memorial donations have been suggested to the Springs Fire Department, online at springsfd.org.