Bennett running for state house seat to be 'voice of the people'
Larry Bennett said he is perfectly suited to represent the citizens of Obion and Lake counties, and part of Dyer County, because his home in Cat Corner is geographically centered in the 77th District of Tennesseee's House of Repres-entatives
"No where else can anyone throw a rock into Lake County, be the last telephone number in Obion County and be born and work land in Dyer County," said Bennett. "I know the people of Obion, Lake and Dyer counties are why this place is the greatest place in the greatest state in the greatest nation on earth."
Bennett, 67, said he has "nothing to gain" in his first effort at elected office.
"I want to represent the people," said Bennett. "I want to make sure their voice is heard in Nashville."
Bennett was born to a sharecropping family in Bogota. The house the family of eight children lived in was on Sandy Lane, across from the former Bogota school.
After graduating from Newbern High School, he obtained expertise in machine tooling and business management from the town's trade school, then went into the U.S. Army.
As a military police riot-control soldier in the 503rd MP Battalion, Bennett had a closeup of American history when he was deployed as part of the federal troops in Jackson, Miss. to integrate the University of Mississippi. He was in the 117-troop Alpha Company, which had landed by helicopter near the campus after midnight on Oct. 1 and arrived in time to help quell an assault on the group protecting James Meredith, the school's first black student.
"We basically became James Meredith's personal protection," said Bennett. "That was an experience. Here I am, a poor farm boy from Bogota, Tennessee, in this big experience. I learned a lot."
The tool-and-die trade work in Newbern served him and his brother, the late Joe Bennett, well. After Bennett left the service, he and Joe founded Bennett Tool and Die in 1965 "because we felt there was a need for that kind of work," he said. "We started out with one machine."
By the time the business sold in 1995, the firm had established itself as a key part of Dyersburg and Dyer County's diverse industrial base.
Bennett owns or farms 1,100 acres in the Cat Corner area of corn, wheat and soybeans. His life as a farmer plays into his enthusiasm for the Tennessee Farm Bureau, said Bennett. If elected, he said, he will seek advice from the cooperative on agribusiness issues.
"That's part of what I know I have to do in Nashville," said Bennett. "Listen. Listen and surround yourself with smart people."
Bennett said his involvement with The Never-Ready-For-Prime-Time Players theatrical troupe is an example of how giving the area is. In the more than 30 years since its first act, more than $500,000 has been raised for a number of good causes, he said.
"We've put on performances in Bogota, Millsfield, Tiptonville, Troy, all over the place, for everything for a new school to a tornado fundraiser to whatever people need. All that money raised stays local for what locals need it for."
Bennett said he hopes to serve in the state legislature "by learning what to do, when to do and how to do. I promise to have an open mind and have a positive attitude and listen."
Bennett has been married to the former Mary Williams of Lake County for 36 years. Their daughter, Andrea Bennett Black, is married to Brian Black of Alamo and is a radiation therapist and director of the Cancer Center of Baptist Memorial Hospital in Union City. Their son, Carlton Sullivan, is a contractor.
Bennett has served on the Elbridge Water Board of Directors. He is also an active member of the West Dyersburg Church of Christ. Bennett has also served on the advisory board of the Tennessee Technology Center at Newbern.