Nov. 14, 1921 – April 14, 2017
Washington Bennett III, a master electrician and owner of Bennett Electrical Contractors Corp., died Friday in his Buffalo home. He was 95.
Born in Ocala, Fla., he came to New York with his parents as a child, graduated from Mount Kisco High School and attended Tuskegee Institute in Alabama and Prairie View State Normal and Industrial College, now Prairie View A&M University, in Texas.
A World War II veteran, he enlisted in the Army in 1942, served in the Battle of the Bulge and was awarded the Bronze Star. Returning from service, he and his wife moved to Buffalo to join family members.
Mr. Bennett was the first African American to become a master electrician in Western New York and, in 1969, the first to found an electrical contracting company. His company worked on projects throughout New York State. Locally, they included Gethsemane Manor and Gethsemane Church, Metropolitan United Methodist Church and the Buffalo Light Rail Rapid Transit.
He was honored in 2010 as a minority businessman.
Mr. Bennett was a past president of the Western New York State Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association. He was a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 41 Apprentices Board and the Rotary Club of Buffalo and was a member of the New York State Skilled Worker Emeritus program. He also was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.
A member of Lincoln United Methodist Church since 1959, he served on many boards and committees. He chaired a committee for church restoration and, as a trustee, started a committee that raised the funds for an annual concert in Kleinhans Music Hall.
He enjoyed golf, tennis and traveling and was a master bridge player.
His wife of 55 years, the former Carrie Lucille Chavis, died in 1999.
Survivors include a son, Washington IV; a close companion, Louise Kelley; five grandchildren; and 12 great-grandchildren.
Services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday in Lincoln Memorial United Methodist Church, 641 Masten Ave.