Wallace F. Bennett

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Wallace F. Bennett
Wallace Bennett.jpg
United States Senator
from Utah
In office
January 3, 1951 – December 20, 1974
Preceded by Elbert D. Thomas
Succeeded by Jake Garn
Personal details
Born Wallace Foster Bennett
November 13, 1898
Salt Lake City
Died December 19, 1993(1993-12-19) (aged 95)
Salt Lake City
Resting place Salt Lake City Cemetery
40°46′37.92″N 111°51′28.8″W / 40.7772000°N 111.858000°W / 40.7772000; -111.858000
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Frances Marion Grant
Children 5
Alma mater University of Utah
Religion The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon)

Wallace Foster Bennett (November 13, 1898 – December 19, 1993) was an American businessman and politician. A member of the Republican Party, he served as a United States Senator from Utah from 1951 to 1974. He was the father of Bob Bennett, who later held his seat in the Senate (1993–2011).[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Wallace Bennett was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, to John Foster and Rosetta Elizabeth (née Wallace) Bennett.[2] His grandparents were English immigrants who came to the United States in 1868.[3] He received his early education at local public schools, and graduated from LDS High School in 1916.[4] He then enrolled at the University of Utah, where he majored in English and won a varsity letter in debating.[4]

Bennett, a member of the university's Reserve Officers' Training Corps, interrupted his college education to serve in the United States Army during World War I.[5] He was commissioned a second lieutenant of the Infantry in September 1918, and was assigned as an instructor in the Student Army Training Corps at Colorado College.[3] He later returned to the University of Utah, and earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1919.[5] For a year following his graduation, he served as principal of San Luis Stake Academy in Manassa, Colorado.[6]

Family[edit]

In 1922, Bennett married Frances Marion Grant, the youngest daughter of Heber J. Grant (who served as President of the LDS Church from 1918 to 1945).[2] The couple had three sons, Wallace, David, and Robert; and two daughters, Rosemary and Frances.[2]

Frances served for a time as a member of the Primary General Board of the LDS Church.[7]

Business career[edit]

In 1920, Bennett returned to Salt Lake City and became an office clerk at Bennett's Paint and Glass Company, which his father had established.[6] He was later advanced to cashier, production manager, and sales manager.[4] He became secretary-treasurer of the company in 1929 and, following his father's death in 1938, became president and general manager.[6] He served in that position until 1950, when he became chairman of the board.[3] In 1938, the company completed what Bennett described as the most modern paint manufacturing plant in the West.[4]

In addition to his work in his family's business, Bennett organized a Ford dealership known as the Bennett Motor Company, serving as its president from 1939 to 1950.[6] He also served as president of the Cardon Jewelry Company and of the National Glass Distributors Association; vice-president of Glayton Investment Company and of the National Paint, Varnish and Lacquer Association; and director of Zion's Savings Bank and Trust Company, the Utah Oil Refining Company, and the Utah Home Fire Insurance Company.[4] In 1949, he was elected president of the National Association of Manufacturers.[6] He spent his year-long tenure as president traveling the country, preaching "the partnership of the men who put up the money, the men who do the work, and the men who tie the whole thing together."[4]

He hosted a daily one-hour program called The Observatory Hour on KSL (1932–1933), and was president of the Salt Lake Civic Opera Company (1938–41) and the Salt Lake Community Chest (1944–1945).[3] In 1935, he became treasurer of the Latter-day Saints Sunday School General Board.[4] He directed the chorus of student nurses of LDS Hospital (1942–48), and wrote the words to God of Power, God of Right which is Hymn #20 in the 1985 Latter-day Saints Hymnal.[3] He authored Faith and Freedom (1950) and Why I am a Mormon (1958).[6]

U.S. Senate[edit]

In March 1950, Bennett announced his candidacy for a seat in the United States Senate from Utah.[3] After receiving the Republican nomination, he faced three-term Democratic incumbent Elbert D. Thomas in the general election.[8] During the campaign, he accused Thomas of having Communist positions and circulated pamphlets associating Thomas with Communist organizations and figures.[8] In November, he defeated Thomas by a margin of 54%-46%.[9] He was subsequently re-elected to three more terms.[6]

During his 23 years in the Senate, Bennett earned a reputation as a conservative and a pro-business advocate, opposing government regulations and supporting right-to-work laws.[10] He served as a member of the Senate Finance and Banking and Currency Committees, as well as the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy and the special Senate Ethics Committee.[11] He supported the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but supported a measure that prohibited withholding federal aid to schools that practiced racial discrimination.[10] He opposed the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and the creation of Medicare.[10] He was also instrumental in bringing the Central Utah Project and the defense and aerospace industries to Utah.[6]

Bennett declined to seek re-election in 1974, and resigned on December 20 of that year to let his elected successor, Jake Garn, take office early and gain seniority.[11]

Later life and death[edit]

Following his departure from the Senate, Bennett returned to Salt Lake City and resumed his business pursuits, serving on a variety of boards.[5] When his son Robert was elected to his former Senate seat in 1992, the elder Bennett said, "Bob and I have made Utah history. We are the first father and son combination to be elected to the U.S. Senate in this state."[1]

Bennett died at his home in Salt Lake City, at age 95.[2] He is buried at Salt Lake City Cemetery.[5]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Donovan, Chris (2006-06-16). "Father's Day for the Senate's 'Legacy Caucus'". MSNBC. 
  2. ^ a b c d "DEATH: WALLACE FOSTER BENNETT". Deseret News. 1993-12-20. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography I. James T. White & Company. 1964. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Current Biography. H. W. Wilson Company. 1950. 
  5. ^ a b c d "BENNETT, Wallace Foster, (1898 - 1993)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h Gessel, David C. (1994), "Bennett, Wallace F.", in Powell, Allan Kent, Utah History Encyclopedia, Salt Lake City, Utah: University of Utah Press, ISBN 0874804256, OCLC 30473917 
  7. ^ Ronald Walker, "Jedediah and Heber", Ensign, 1979
  8. ^ a b Brune, Lester H. (1996). The Korean War: Handbook of the Literature and Research. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. 
  9. ^ "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 7, 1950". Clerk of the United States House of Representatives. 
  10. ^ a b c Siracusa, Joseph M. (2004). The Kennedy Years. New York: Facts On File, Inc. 
  11. ^ a b "Wallace Bennett, Ex-Senator, 95; Utah Republican Served 24 Years". The New York Times. 1993-12-20. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Bennett, Wallace F. Faith and Freedom: The Pillars of American Democracy, New York: Scribner, 1950.
  • Bennett, Wallace F. Why I Am A Mormon, New York: T. Nelson, 1958.

External links[edit]

United States Senate
Preceded by
Elbert D. Thomas
U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Utah
1951–1974
Served alongside: Arthur V. Watkins, Frank Moss
Succeeded by
Jake Garn