Former Sen. Robert Bennett remembered

FILE - In this May 8, 2010 picture, U.S. Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, speaks at the 2010 Utah GOP Convention in Salt Lake City, Utah. An assistant says former Republican Sen. Bob Bennett of Utah, one of the first incumbents ousted in a national wave of tea party-led anger in 2010, has died. He was 82. (AP Photo/Steve C. Wilson, File)
U.S. Sen. Bob Bennett at the 2010 Utah GOP Convention in Salt Lake City, Utah. Bennett died on May 4. (AP Photo, Steve C. Wilson)

Former U.S. Sen. Robert Bennett, 82 years old, died Wednesday, May 4, after suffering complications due to pancreatic cancer and a recent stroke.

Two separate viewings will be held in Salt Lake City. The first is Saturday, May 13, at Larkin Mortuary, 260 East South Temple from 6-8 p.m. The second will take place on Saturday, May 14, at 9:30 a.m. at the Federal Heights Ward Chapel, 1300 E Fairfax Road with funeral services to follow at 11:00 a.m.

“His final days were filled with kindness and love, and the family greatly appreciates the outpouring of well wishes and support,” Bennett’s family said in a statement. “It touched his heart, and deeply touched ours, to see how much he was loved.”

Bennett served three terms as a U.S. Senator for Utah until 2010 and subsequently worked as a senior policy advisor for a law firm and as a part-time teacher, researcher and lecturer at the University of Utah.

A staunch Republican, Bennett was known as a reliably conservative senator who was also willing to work and collaborate with opposing parties in order to accomplish what was best for his constituents.

“His commitment to his constituents transcended partisanship and he often reached across the aisle to get things done,” said President Barack Obama in a statement he issued on Thursday, May 5.

This sentiment was echoed by many across the political aisle.

Utah House Democrat Patrice Arent also remembered Bennett in a statement, reminiscing on the many years she knew him.

“Whenever we talked, it didn’t matter that I was a Democrat; what mattered was that I was a Utahn,” Arent said.  She also remembered their shared love of Shakespeare and the Utah Shakespeare Festival, where she said they had sat and discussed plays.

Bennett, also a former member of the Utah Debate Commission, was remembered by Thomas Wright, former chairman of the Utah Republican Party and current Utah Debate Commission board member.

“He (Bennett) had a way that was simultaneously kind but strong and principled,” Wright said. “He did what he believed to be right and didn’t care about the political consequences. That’s so rare. There are too few like him.”

Many believe that it was this attitude, as well as Bennett’s willingness to “work across the aisle,” that cost him in 2010 when he was denied a spot on the primary ballot at the Utah State Republican Convention as the Tea Party wave ousted many that were seen as “establishment” Republicans.

However, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell explained, “Bob preferred the often low-key work of legislating to the bright lights of the media.”

He noted that Bennett had once said there were two kinds of senators in Washington: work horses and show horses. It was clear to many which path Bennett had followed.

“He was respected by men and women on both sides of the aisle, not only for his expertise but also for his common touch, his common sense and his commitment to uncommon virtues,” Mitt Romney, former Massachusetts Governor and Republican presidential nominee posted on Facebook.

Bennett was also an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He is survived by his wife, Joyce, their six children and 20 grandchildren.

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