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Golf simulator donated to Windham in honor of Pete Bennett

Golf simulator donated to Windham in honor of Pete Bennett


By Tom Nader

Publisher and Editor

Pete Bennett had a special childhood in Windham.


It is where he fell in love with the game of golf.

A love that persisted throughout his life.

All the way until his death on Aug. 10, just months after winning a local tournament, at the age of 74.

“Pete just loved golf, and he was great at it. He loved everything about it, including all of the friendships that the game brought him,” his sister, Paula Bennett said.

It is time for that love to stay in Windham — and his love for the game will become someone else’s love.

With the donation of a state-of-the-art golf simulator to the high school by the Bennett family in Pete’s name, future generations of Windham student-athletes will find the same joy in the game as he did.

On a deeper level, the golf simulator, which will be set up inside the school, acts as Pete’s legacy to the community that supported him during his formative years.

“We knew that we wanted to do something, and we started talking with (Windham golf coach) Cody (Apthorpe) back in October. We wanted to know what would be something meaningful that could help the team. We talked about providing the team with golf balls or golf bags, and while those would have been nice, we wanted something that was more permanent. Something that could continuously encourage other young people to enjoy golf.”

For Pete, his enjoyment began while playing for legendary Windham coach Leo Kot, after the Bennett family moved to the village to live in the barracks community during the peak era of the Ravenna Arsenal. Pete was the oldest of three Bennett children (Pete, Paula and Suzi), and they grew up playing alongside many other childhood neighborhood friends.

“We loved Windham. It was such a great place to grow up. None of us knew anything but love and respect for each other,” Paula Bennett said.

Bennett, who also played football for the Bombers, graduated from Windham in 1966. His sisters were right behind him, with Paula graduating in 1967 and Suzi in 1970.

Pete was drafted into the Vietnam War and was stationed for three years and he was diagnosed with breast cancer five years ago from the exposure to Agent Orange while serving our country. The breast cancer metastasized to lung cancer last year.

Pete attended Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Mich., and became a pharmacist. He married his wife Jo, and they had two daughters, Morgan and Lauren, and two grandchildren. He retired early, largely because he wanted to spend more time with his family, but also to get more time on the golf course.

Paula described her older brother as “understated and unassuming,” but that you could always see him “come alive” when he was on the course.

“Thinking about him, I think he would have that same smile knowing that the golf simulator will help other kids love golf. It would mean a lot to him. He would definitely be smiling.”

Apthorpe is certainly smiling. In part, because of his golf program’s new learning tool, but also because he felt an immediate connection during the early conversations with the Bennett family.

“I quickly realized that we were kindred spirits in remaining loyal to your roots,” said Apthorpe, who graduated from Windham in 2009. “The Bennett family’s contribution will indefinitely bring the sport of golf much closer to the lives of our students. We are greatly appreciative and honored to have received support from the Bennett family, and we hope to pass on and instill a love for the game of golf in Pete’s memory.”

Windham Superintendent Aireane Curtis echoed Apthorpe’s emotions.

“The district is thrilled that Paula has taken the time and resources to give back to the district on behalf of her brother,” Curtis said. “This gift will provide opportunities to our students that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to have. We are truly appreciative of this very generous gift.”

For Paula, it serves as a gift for her family, as well.

“What do you do when you lose somebody you love? You want to celebrate that person. You want to keep people aware of what they meant to you. You think back to those that helped you or your loved ones, and you want to pay it forward.”

1 Comment

  1. Dave Brickley April 11, 2024

    You were Great friend & you are missed !


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