Donald David Bennett, a 13th-generation member of the Bennett family and a lifelong East Hampton resident, died at home in East Hampton Village on May 7. He was 77, and had been ill for some time.
A three-term chief of the East Hampton Fire Department, where he was a member of Engine Company 2 for 56 years, and a founding member of the East Hampton Ambulance Association, he served East Hampton Village as its fire inspector and as its building inspector until his retirement in 1997.
Mr. Bennett’s “main dedication” was to his family, members said. He was married for 54 years to Mary Jean Bennett, who survives. The couple had three sons and a daughter, who also survive. They are Matthew David Bennett, Vernon James Bennett, and Andrew Fitzgerald Bennett, all of East Hampton, and Donna Marie Boss of Coventry, R.I.
A sister, Joan Bennett Dobricki of Syracuse, and three grandchildren, who called him Beppo, a family nickname originating with his grandfather, also survive.
He was born on Aug. 10, 1933, at the family house on Cedar Street, the son of Vernon Ryder Bennett and Angela Fitzgerald Bennett.
As a teenager, he worked on the printing press at The East Hampton Star, but after graduating from East Hampton High School in 1951, he enlisted in the Navy, and served aboard the U.S.S. Hornet during the Korean War.
Upon returning home, Mr. Bennett went to work as a carpenter at Bennett-Waslow Building, the construction company his father had with a partner, then returned to work at The Star, at the request of Jeannette Edwards Rattray, the paper’s editor, his family said.
During the 1960s, Mr. Bennett worked at Country Towne Associates, a printing business in Southampton that he later purchased with two partners, George Draker and Harold Chapman.
Mr. Bennett was proud of his long membership in the fire department, which his family called “one of his life’s passions.”
When a consultant made a recommendation to East Hampton Village Mayor Ron Rioux that the village have a fire inspector, Mr. Bennett stepped down from his third term as fire chief to take the post. Later, as the village building inspector, he oversaw the construction of the Emergency Services Building on Cedar Street.
A wake was held on May 10 at the Yardley and Pino Funeral Home in East Hampton. A service took place at Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church in East Hampton on May 11 with the Rev. Donald Hanson presiding. Burial followed at Most Holy Trinity Cemetery, also in East Hampton.
The family has suggested memorial contributions to the Wounded Warrior Project, 7021 AC Skinner Parkway, Suite 100, Jacksonville, Fla. 32256, to American Legion Post 419, P.O. Box 1343, East Hampton 11937, Everit Albert Herter Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 550, P.O. Box 5033, East Hampton 11937, or to the East Hampton Fire Department, 1 Cedar Street, East Hampton 11937.