Leo R. Bennett, 91, Watertown

WATERTOWN, NY —  Leo R. Bennett, 91, Watertown, passed away peacefully surrounded by his children, family, friends and a boatload of people who loved him.

Calling hours will be 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday, May 15, at Mercy Point Church, Burrville. A funeral service will be held at 11:00 a.m. with reception to follow at the church.

Leo was born on Jan. 23, 1930, in Watertown, New York, to Steven and Ruth (McCready) Bennett. He attended Watertown schools. Most of his friends were made on Portage Street.

He met his life-long love, Bessie Rivers after being introduced by friends (we could never get an exact date out of them). After a short while, her dad, Harold, let him live with the family in Clayton, NY. Leo and Bessie were married in 1950. She passed in January 2020 just two months shy of their 70th wedding anniversary.

Leo was a loving husband, dad, grandfather, uncle, cousin and friend. He was the smartest man we knew and could do just about anything. In his early years, he worked many jobs – on farms, delivering TableTalk pies and more. He also worked for many years at the Crystal Restaurant starting at the age of 14. He began as a dishwasher, became the prep cook and then a chef. Even when he no longer worked there, he had no problem walking right into the kitchen as if he owned the place. He and his wife owned the S&B Diner on Court Street in the early 1960s. He also worked for Watertown Restaurant Supply, Black River Restaurant Supply, Mercy Hospital and NTL Appliance (of which he was the “L” and is now owned by his youngest son). His claim to fame was he repaired nearly every refrigerator in most restaurants, diners and schools in the tri-county area. Bonus points for knowing the make and model of the fridge. Extra bonus points for knowing the type of dishes they used.

Leo was known as a jack-of-all-trades and there was nothing he couldn’t fix. At one point, he and Bessie purchased and refurbished five houses on the street he raised his family. Leo loved children, and with a soft spot for babies, he would never turn down a baby snuggle (and would try to sneak one in). He loved fishing and boating on the St. Lawrence River and went through a few propellers every season. He could often be found relaxing on the back porch, enjoying the koi pond and gardens, with whomever may be stopping by for a visit that day. He had great sense of humor with just the right amount of swearing and sarcasm – even right up until the end.

Leo and Bessie spent 11 years sharing their time between Watertown and their home in Spanish Lakes Country Club Village in Fort Pierce, Florida. Ever the romantic, he would call Bessie “Bet” and sing to her in the car to make her smile.

He was predeceased by his wife of nearly 70 years, Bessie Bennett, son Brian, siblings Frank Hoffman, George Bennett, Idris Wilder, Ruth Funderburk, Dorothy Marra, sister Beverly and infant brother John. He is survived by his Favorites, John (Mary) Bennett of Fort Pierce, Florida, Cindy (Greg) Steiner of Burrville, Kathy (Kevin) Robinson of Chaumont, Judy Bennett of Brownville, Donna (Howard) Knowlton of Harrisville and Dan (Chris) Bennett of Henderson. He is also survived by grandchildren Mandy Robinson (Ang Rich) and Christopher (Alexa) Bennett who he and Bessie helped raise. He leaves behind many grandchildren, great grandchildren, great-great grandchildren and his siblings, Charlotte Ubriaco and Stephen (Junior) Bennett.

Arrangements are with D.L. Calarco Funeral Home, Inc.

Condolences may be offered at www.dlcalarco.com