One of the founding members of the Ward 6 Democrats passed away in July. James Arthur Bennett peacefully entered into eternal rest on Monday, July 1, 2019.
Bennett was born on June 8, 1941 in Washington DC to Albert and Mary Ellen Bennett, one of nine siblings that also included Alberta and Alice. He was pre-deceased by brothers Edward, Hazel, Eddie Foster, Vernon, Robert, Eugene and his sister Wilhelmina.
Bennett grew up in Northwest DC where he attended Cardoza Senior High School. After graduation, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and was stationed in Germany until his honorable discharge in 1961. Completing his tour of duty, he returned to DC and attended The Corcoran School of Art where his artistic talents flourished. During this time, he also danced with the Melvin Deal African Dance Troupe. In addition to painting, African dance, and retail window design, he learned the specialized technique of antique furniture restoration, a skill that became his life-long passion.
He also loved to sing and would perform at church, family gatherings and anywhere else requested. He played acoustic and bass guitars and sung with a rich, melodic voice together with the Plain Brown Wrapper in addition to other local groups.
In addition to his artistic renderings, he was heavily involved in local politics and other civic activities. It was while pursuing these interests that he met and later married Loraine and out of their union had two beautiful children, Jacqueline and Victor.
Bennett was loved and respected by people from all walks of life. Known as Doc, James Arthur, Jim or Bennett he shared his intellect, wisdom, music, poetry, spirituality and love for family, friends and life with everyone he met.
Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Andy Litsky (6D01) said that he and Bennett met through the Ward 6 Democrats, often sharing a drink and a social hour after work.
“More often than not, beer stretched into dinner with whatever was in the fridge or currently on the stove. After dinner, friends from across the District would drop by,” Litsky said. “James knew a lot of people—artists, union leaders, councilmembers, mayors, wannabes, pastors, musicians, reporters, and just plain folks—and he welcomed everyone with equal enthusiasm.”
Litsky said that the music, conversation and laughter would stretch long into the night. “For those brief few hours, no matter what travail took charge outside his door, a peaceable kingdom reigned under James Bennett’s roof,” Litsky said. “Those were magical times. He was a wonderful man.”
James leaves to morn to his daughter, Jacqueline Bennett Bell and Victor Bennett. He is also survived by six grandchildren Christian and Dominic Bell, Emily, Daniel, Marcus and Leeya Bennett; two sisters Alberta Bennett and Alice Bennett Davis;Aunts Bessie Lee Stanton, Surina Cunningham and Sadie Cunningham and Dadie Cunningham; many nieces, nephews, grand-nieces, grand-nephews, cousins and a host of other relatives, God children, friends and life-long friends Howard Croft, Maurice Jackson and Loraine Bennett.