UNIONTOWN LOST A good friend, one who will be missed by many. David R. Bennett, former president of the Uniontown Improvement Association and the town's Memorial Day parade organizer, passed away Dec. 17. He was 66.
When I started doing this column more than a year ago, one of the first people I turned to for information was Mr. Bennett. He seemed to know everyone, especially with his many military friends in the area.
When I wrote a piece about veterans, Mr. Bennett gave me a list of prospective subjects and their phone numbers.
On a story about the new incarnation of Uniontown's newspaper, the Engine of Liberty, he lent me an old book with precious historical information.
He never said no when you needed his help.
He was quite a man.
Friends and neighbors remember him for his fondness for old cars, interest in politics and loyalty to friends.
"He was the epitome of the words `true friend,'" said John Brown, a neighbor and former Carroll County sheriff. "He'd do anything for you. And he was honest. If he told you something, you could take it to the bank."
Another neighbor, Betty Smith, recalled his interest in politics.
"He was very political," Smith said. "He worked on my campaign for county commissioner, handing out fliers, stuffing envelopes."
And then there were the cars.
"He had at least three old cars," said Roland Childs, a neighbor who liked to talk to him about cars and hunting. "You know that black Jaguar he drove around went back to at least the 1970s. He was a big Jaguar fan."
Mr. Bennett was a 1955 graduate of Colgate University in New York. He was a member of the Navy ROTC during college and received his commission in the Marine Corps upon graduation. He was a dedicated and decorated man.
He served six tours of duty in Vietnam. He flew F-4 fighter jets and C-130 cargo planes. During his final tour of duty, he served as the personal pilot for the commandant of the Marine Corps out of Andrews Air Force Base. He retired in 1975 after 20 years of distinctive service.
After his military retirement, Mr. Bennett sold aircraft for the Piper Aircraft Co. in California, then Falcon Jets in the mid-Atlantic. He moved to Virginia in 1980 and worked as a military contractor.
In 1993 he moved to Uniontown with his wife, Patrece.
The couple said they fell in love with the town's charm and history.
They also fell in love with the property at 3481 Uniontown Road, a house that had had only one previous owner. They wanted to restore the property to its original grandeur.
"We really wanted a home that hadn't had all these renovations," Mr. Bennett said during one interview.
Mr. Bennett also served as the Uniontown Improvement Association president for nearly five years, where he spearheaded the drive for new lights that would maintain the town's old charm.
While living in Carroll County, Mr. Bennett became involved in the Marine Corps League. Patrece said it was his lifeblood.
One league member said that Mr. Bennett, a retired major, had a great impact on his life.
"Of all the people I've known in the Marine Corps and the Marine Corps League, the major probably had the most influence [on me]," said Mike Owens of Westminster. "The major was liked by everyone. The Marine Corps League has lost a real strong part of our organization."
So, Mr. Bennett, to you a belated salute for your service to your town, your country, to the friendship you extended to all.
Carolers brave cold
More than 75 carolers braved the cold Saturday for the annual Christmas in Uniontown caroling.
The tradition of caroling up and down Uniontown Road dates back more than 75 years, according to Dottie Fritz, a lifelong resident of the town whose father helped keep the tradition alive.
"But when I was young, we would go out at 5:30 a.m. on Christmas Day," Fritz said.
Fritz's father, the Rev. John H. Hoch, kept the tradition going until his death in 1961.
The Uniontown Improvement Association now sponsors the caroling, and carolers no longer rise in the early hours of Christmas Day.
The tradition is to carol the Saturday before Christmas.
After caroling, they meet at the one-room schoolhouse for hot cider, cookies and good cheer.
Taneytown tree pickup
For those of you who still put up real pine trees during the holidays, Taneytown and the Taneytown Volunteer Fire Company will have a tree pickup day.
For pickup service, place your undecorated tree on the curb by 8 a.m. Jan. 6.
The trees will be turned into mulch for residents to use in the spring.
For more information, call 410-751-1100.
Jean Marie Beall's Northwest neighborhood column appears each Thursday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.