Thursday, March 9, 2017

Tarvey Wheeler Bennett (1903-1950)

Portrait from the Anniston Star, May 3, 1942.

   Two term Alabama state representative Tarvey Wheeler Bennett's death at the age of just 46 in 1950 curtailed an already bright political career, and in addition to his service in the legislature had earlier distinguished himself as a milk producer and distributor, being the general manager of the Calhoun County Creamery. 
   A lifelong Calhoun County resident, Tarvey Wheeler Bennett was born in Duke, Alabama on August 8, 1903, being the son of William LeAndrew and Emma Elizabeth Bennett. Bennett attended the public school at Cedar Springs, Alabama and would go on to study business at the State Teachers College in Jacksonville. He married in March 1922 to Mary Olivia Ford (1906-1983), with whom he would have four children: Alice Olivia (1923-1991), John William (1925-1982), Carter Wayne (1927-2001) and Bernard Franklin (born 1931).
   Following his marriage Tarvey Bennett entered into farming and eventually became the owner and operator of a dairy farm in Jacksonville that comprised 150 dairy cows. Beginning in 1925 he became affiliated with the Calhoun County Creamery, and after fifteen years of service became its General Manager in 1940. Regarded as one of the "outstanding manufacturing establishments" in the northern part of the state, this creamery would prosper under Bennett's stewardship, eventually becoming "one of the largest Milk Pasteurizing and Bottling plants in North Alabama."

From the May 3, 1932 Anniston Star.

   In 1940 Bennett experienced his first taste of public service when he was selected as an assistant U.S. Census Supervisor for Alabama's 4th Congressional district. Bennett's campaign notice from the Anniston Star relates that he "completed his work second in the entire United States", and that his efficiency received personal praise from the Federal Census Director. Active in several fraternal groups in the Calhoun County area, Bennett was a longstanding Mason, a member of the Odd Fellows Lodge, the Fraternal Order of Police, and the Elks Lodge.
    A former Vice-President of the Alabama League of Young Democrats, Tarvey W. Bennett launched his political career in early 1942 when he announced his candidacy for a seat in the Alabama State House of Representatives from Calhoun County. He would win election that November and during the 1943-47 session sat on the committees on Aviation, Agriculture and LaborBennett won another four year term in November 1946, garnering 3,061 votes on election day, and at the start of the 1947 session was named to the committee on Conservation. 
   Tarvey Bennett wasn't a candidate for reelection in the spring 1950 Alabama house primary and died unexpectedly of a heart attack during the last months of his term, his death occurring on August 6, 1950, just two days short of his 47th birthday. He was survived by his mother, wife and all of his children and was interred at the Edgemont Cemetery in Anniston, Alabama.

From the 1947 Alabama legislative composite photo.

Bennett's obituary from the August 7, 1950 Anniston Star.

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