Kerm Bennett

{gallery}/02_02_10/kerm{/gallery} Kerm Bennett, a well-known educator and respected administrator, passed away at the age of 68 after a courageous battle with cancer. He lived in southern Oregon most of his life. His parents were Jewell and Ola Bennett of Central Point, both now deceased. In his high school and college years, he was an outstanding athlete and is honored in the Hall of Fame at Crater High School and Southern Oregon University.  He held the record at SOC from 1963-1997 for 12 touchdowns in a single season..     Upon graduation from SOC (now SOU) in 1963, he married Joan Houston and moved to California. They both missed southern Oregon and soon moved back, beginning his career in Oregon as a teacher and football coach at Eagle Point first at the junior high and then at the high school, from 1966 until 1972 when Thurman Bell soon lured him to Roseburg where he served as an assistant coach and teacher. Another move came a few years later, back to Eagle Point as head football coach. After the tax base vote failed in Eagle Point and the schools closed in 1976, he returned to Roseburg, as an administrator for Murl Anderson, Superintendent, and later as Athletic Director.

He left the education field for a few years, as owner and manager of a successful Coldwell Banker Real Estate. After selling the business, he returned to Roseburg High as Dean of Students.  A year later he was hired by the Medford School District to oversee the athletic program in the conversion of the two year mid-high and two year senior high to four year high schools, plus the construction of a gymnasium for South Medford High.

He married a college sweetheart, Sara Vandenburgh. As he continued to need more challenges, he then moved to Grants Pass as Assistant Superintendent to Dale Smith. His career culminated with serving 8 years as the Superintendent of District 7 in Grants Pass, during which time he helped the community pull together to pass an unprecedented $39.3 million bond for a new high school and elementary school.  All throughout his career, he believed strongly in the role of athletics and extra-curricular activities in building character in students. He lived his life with integrity and a sense of humor.  He also believed in giving back to the community, and was active in every community in which he lived, serving on the Board of Directors for United Way, Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Clubs, YMCA, Pear Blossom Run Foundation, and many others. He retired to Portland in 2003 and devoted his energies to restoring his beloved boat, the “Sara Lee”.

He continued in the education arena by serving as interim Superintendents in St. Helens and Eagle Point, as well as being a consultant for the Oregon School Boards Association. His motto has always been “Do the right thing for the right reason”. This past summer he fulfilled his dream of taking his boat to the San Juans and British Gulf Islands.

He is survived by his two sons, Brad (Rhonda and grandchildren Cody and Cami) and Michael (Liz) of Mill Creek, Wash., as well as Sara, his wife and her 3 children, Jene and Katy Sells of Portland and Shannon Sells of Seattle and his sister, Gwenda (Earl) Wilmoth, of Medford.   His Celebration of Life will be held Feb. 20 at 2:00 p.m. in the Grants Pass High School Commons.

A scholarship has been set up in his name and donations may be sent to Grants Pass High School Foundation in memory of Kerm Bennett, PO Box 908, Grants Pass Oregon 97528.

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