Billy L. “Coach” Bennett, 89, of Palatka, passed from this life on Thursday, January 11, 2018 at Haven Hospice Roberts Care Center following an extended illness. He was born in Carthage, TN and graduated from Austin Peay State College in Clarksville, TN with his Bachelor’s Degree. He was drafted into the US Army and served two years during WWII. Following his service to country, he was able to obtain his Master’s Degree from the University of Tennessee using the GI Bill. In 1953 he moved to Florida and began a 33-year coaching career at Dixie County High School. Later he moved to Bay High and then in 1955 to Palatka where he became an assistant football coach under Coach Rabbit Smith. He became Head Football Coach at Palatka High School in 1964 and served in that capacity until 1977. He also served as a teacher and as Athletic Director until his retirement in 1992. He served as Head Baseball Coach for 13 years compiling a record of 165-56 with 8 District Championships and 3 State Championships (1963, 1965, & 1966). As Head Football Coach for 12 years, he established a record of 101-46-5 with 2 District Championships and 3 Conference Titles. Coach Bennett also served the FACA (Florida Athletic Coaches Association) as a member of the Board of Directors, The Executive Committee and as President in 1979-80. He represented the FACA on the Florida High School Activities Association (FHSAA) Board of Directors. Coach Bennett received the FACA Meritorious Service and Life Membership Awards for his outstanding service to the coaching profession. On March 21, 1987 Coach Bennett was inducted into the Florida Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame. On September 1, 2017 the football field at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Palatka was named The Bennett-Cooper Field in honor of Coach Billy Bennett and the late Coach Willard Cooper. Billy was a member of First Baptist Church of Palatka where he had served as a deacon.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Joseph Thomas Bennett and Era High Bennett.
He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Patsy Williams Bennett of Palatka, daughter, Cathy Bennett of Sherwood, WI, sisters, Etta L. “Peggy” Bennett Castleman of Tullahoma, TN and Judy Bennett Householder of Maryville, TN, 5 nephews and 3 nieces.
Services celebrating Coach Bennett’s life will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, January 16, 2018 at First Baptist Church in Palatka with Pastor Brad Hall officiating. Burial will follow at Oak Hill East Cemetery in Palatka. The family will receive friends from 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. on Monday, January 15, 2018 at Johnson-Overturf Chapel in Palatka.
In lieu of flowers the family requests memorial donations be sent to Haven Hospice Roberts Care Center, 6400 St. Johns Ave., Palatka, FL 32177 or to Rodeheaver Boy’s Ranch, 380 Boys Ranch Rd., Palatka, FL 32177.
Memories and condolences may be expressed to the family at Billy’s Book of Memories page at www.johnsonoverturffunerals.com .
Arrangements are entrusted to Johnson-Overturf Funeral Home in Palatka.
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