Mr. Sterling Bennett’s OBITUARY
What follows is the text of the funeral address given by the Most Reverend Duane Allgood on the occasion of Sterling Bennett’s journey from this world to the next, given last Saturday at the First Unitarinan Church on Pitts Road.
Let us stand, to commemorate the soul of one of us who has recently departed.
Sterling Bennett, Assistant Mosquito Control Commissioner and son of Gustav Bennetov and Josephine Moreland, of Bavaria, Germany and Cork, Ireland, passed on unexpectedly, on Saturday last, due to an accident, while mowing on Peck’s Hill.
His estranged wife Harriet Perkins, a paraplegic, who sat in the field, was helpless to prevent Mr. Bennett from killing himself with the cutterbar of his 1954 gray four-cylinder Ford tractor. According to Mrs. Harriet Perkins, who is the widow of Clarence Perkins–her first husband, the former principal of South Otselic Elementary, Mr. Bennett inadvertently mowed off the two rear legs of his Irish Setter, Sam, as the dog ran through the high rye grass, barking at a rabbit or perhaps the tractor. Seeing the dog crawling ahead of the cutterbar, spurting blood, and not wanting to turn off the tractor which only started with great difficulty—and entirely forgetting to take the machine out of gear, Mr. Bennett is said to have jumped from the moving tractor, stumbled, then picked the dog up in his arms.
According to Harriet Perkins, a stream of blood from the dog struck Mr. Bennett in the face, blinding him. He is said to have lost his direction and to have stumbled back into the path of the advancing tractor, which, with the over-sized teeth on the cutterbar, cut limbs from his body as he stumbled backward, still holding the injured dog.
Mrs. Perkins reported Mr. Bennett kept appearing above the rye, then falling as if someone had tripped him. Each time he appeared lower, until he didn’t get up at all again.
Firemen who reached the scene–coming directly from the Founders’ Parade at Beaver Meadow–found the tractor at the bottom of Pitcher’s Gorge, upside down on the dirt road and burned as black as night, having fallen fifty feet over Indian Leap Cliff. Mr. Bennett and the setter Sam were both at the scene, attached to the cutterbar and charred beyond recognition.
The fire was reported by Mrs. Dolores Higgins, who was returning with her daughters along the Gorge road, who are from North Pitcher. State Police found Mrs. Harriet Perkins in the Peck’s Hill rye field several hours later. She was said to be suffering from evening Fall chill and showing but a faint heart pulse. Dr. John Ward said she was suffering from depression due to the accident.
Mr. Bennett is survived by his companion, Mertle Wasent, a philosophy student at Mission University, and by his two sons, Markus and Dylan, a photographer in California and a reporter in Sidney, Australia.
Interment will be held at the First Presbyterian Church on Sunday, November 9, which is tomorrow so you’ll all be able to attend. Flowers should not be sent to her or the sons, as Miss Wasent is allergic to them. Trustees of the church will meet after the services. Members are reminded to bring refreshments, as usual.
Let us pray, please.
Oh, Great Lord of the Heavens, accept this man’s soul into Your bright rye fields, just as You accept what is left of him and Sam into the perfumed bosom of Your perfect earth. And may what was once their noble heads lie between Your sweet breasts, Lord. And may You cool the fires which burn in them– with the white softness of Your arms, Lord.
May You uplift him and Sam, and put them on their feet again, along the flight paths to Your Wide Heaven.
And, Lord, may You be as merciful to those of us who are still down here mowing and dashing through Your rye fields.