Bennett Trust: A helping hand

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 14, 2005

Suffolk News-Herald

The Richard Bennett Trust, which made recent headlines with its sale of Planters Club to the city, tends to stay out of the media spotlight.

But unbeknownst to many, the trust has been working quietly to enhance life for northern Suffolk residents for hundreds of years.

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The trust, established in 1676 after the death of Bennett, a wealthy landowner who settled in Suffolk in early 1620s, is the oldest in continuous operation, according to the Internal Revenue Service.

In his will, Bennett left instructions that his wealth be used to improve life for residents in what is now the Chuckatuck and Sleepy Hole boroughs of Suffolk, said Richard Davis, one of five court-appointed trustees on its board of directors.

Today, the trust is helping 21 students through college with full or partial scholarships, Davis said.

It also kicks in contributions supporting local youth and service organizations-the Suffolk Youth Athletic Association, Bennetts Creek Little League, the YMCA, the Chuckatuck Volunteer Fire Department and Nansemond-Suffolk Volunteer Rescue Squad, among others, Davis said.

Other board members include Thomas Hazelwood, Wayne Sawyer, John Harlow and Charles Rose. Board members serve five-year terms.

&uot;I am proud to have served on the Richard Bennett Trust for more than 50 years,&uot; said Davis.

The trust’s earliest records were lost in a fire, said Davis’ wife, Dorothy.

But records dating back as far as 1854 show how the organization was helping residents, including buying coffins for paupers and providing monthly assistance for indigent residents.