Chittenden W. Bennett

Electronics engineer, veteran, devoted husband and father

Longtime Claremont resident Chittenden Watts Bennett, known to all as “Chick,” died on February 19, 2014. He was 85.

Mr. Bennett was born in Oak Park, Illinois on September 18, 1928 to Elliot Chalmers Bennett and Ella Annette Bennett. In 1936, he moved with his family to Cleveland Heights, Ohio where his father took a job with a subsidiary of McGraw-Hill publications called Brown-Heywood, publishing magazines in the early days of the electrical industry.

In 1938, he moved with his family to Bedford, Ohio. While living in Bedford, his father purchased a 180-acre apple and peach farm along Lake Erie, where young Chick and his younger brother Carveth lived and worked during the summer months in their teens.

After graduating from Bedford High School, Mr. Bennett attended Case Institute of Technology where he studied electrical engineering. After service in the Army during the Korean War, he married his childhood sweetheart, Mary Carolyn Cross. They met as teenagers at a Methodist youth summer camp and were married in Bay Village, Ohio on July 12, 1952. Shortly afterwards, they moved to California where their four children were born. A widower for the last year and a half, Mr. Bennett resided in the Claremont home that he and his wife had occupied for the past 54 years.

First working for two years at Cal Tech in the Wind Tunnel, Mr. Bennett had a 35-year career at General Dynamics, Pomona as an electronic engineer. When he retired at the age of 62, he was the head of the Gyro Technology department. Mr. Bennett continued to work as an independent consultant for several more years, traveling between California and Arizona.

Mr. Bennett was a devoted husband and father. His main passions in life were his wife and children. He loved traveling with his wife, Mary. Their most memorable trips were a two-and-a-half week tour of western Europe, a rail and sea adventure to Alaska and a 50th wedding anniversary cruise to Hawaii.

The Bennetts were patrons of music and the arts. Chick and Mary were contributors to the Los Angeles Philharmonic and The Pasadena Playhouse, among other cultural causes. Mr. Bennett was also an avid amateur photographer, taking pictures at his high school reunion, friends’ weddings and all family occasions.

He pursued his interest in railroads by volunteering his technical expertise to the Fairplex Garden Miniature Railroad at the Pomona Fairgrounds. He was interested in astronomy and enjoyed taking his telescope out to the desert to watch meteor showers. Working in the family fruit orchard as a teenager gave Chick a lifelong love of gardening and interest in the weather. He always had rain and weather gages and kept detailed weather charts.

Mr. Bennett is survived by his four children, Julie, Robin, Elliot and Bonnie, by his grandson Justin and by his brother Carveth Whitfield Bennett, of Canton, Georgia.

A private family memorial has been planned. A public celebration of Mr. Bennett’s life will take place on Saturday, April 5 at 1 p.m. at Todd Memorial Chapel in Claremont, located at 325 N. Indian Hill Blvd.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be sent to the Salvation Army.


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