Bonac Through and Through

Nancy Bennett-Donohue, who is now 103, and her husband, Brentford Bennett, opened Brent’s General Store in the 1950s. Bennett Family Photo

Though Nancy Bennett-Donohue, who celebrated her 103rd birthday on July 29, now lives in Micco, Fla., her roots are Bonac through and through.

Mrs. Bennett-Donohue is part of the “posey” Lester family and was born in Amagansett in 1911 to Captain Frank Lester and Sadie Eames. She was raised on Cross Highway, in the portion of Amagansett that is known as Poseyville. Her father was a fisherman and led the family crew with the help of her brother Francis Lester. Stories about her father and his brothers can be found in the book “Men’s Lives” by Peter Matthiessen, which chronicles the lives of fishermen on the South Fork.

In the early 1930s, Mrs. Bennett-Donohue married Brentford Bennett and lived with him in Southampton for 15 or so years. They moved back to Amagansett in the early 1950s and opened Brent’s General Store on the corner of Montauk Highway and Cross Highway. They had four children together: Brent Bennett, the late Walter Bennett, Lois Tibbets, and Arlene Creaser. Brent Bennett lives in Springs, and Mrs. Tibbets and Mrs. Creaser live in Micco near their mother.

According to Mrs. Creaser, her mother spent most of her time working at Brent’s and was very committed to raising her family. “They ran the store until my brother Walter took over. It was in the family for quite a while.”

Mrs. Bennett-Donohue made some of the food sold at Brent’s, including traditional Bonac recipes. “My mother made clam pie and clam chowder when they first opened the store,” Mrs. Creaser said.

After Mrs. Bennett-Donohue’s son took over the store, she and Mr. Bennett began spending winters in Florida, and traveled extensively around the East Coast until Mr. Bennett died in 1976. Mrs. Bennett-Donohue was remarried to James Donohue, a postmaster from Bridgehampton, and they moved to Florida together.

Mrs. Bennett-Donohue is a lifelong bingo player. When she lived on the East End, she never missed a week playing in Southampton.

“She still goes to bingo,” Mrs. Creaser said, “As a matter of fact, on her birthday she was at bingo with all of her bingo friends.”

Crocheting is another lifelong passion. “She is always crocheting doilies,” Mrs. Creaser said. “Anyone who comes in her house comes out with a doily. . . . A lot of the things she has made are all over the U.S.A.; she gives most of the stuff away to anyone she meets.”

“Physically there is very little wrong with her outside of age. She walks to my house across the street with her walker,” said Mrs. Creaser. “She has outlived two husbands and two boyfriends.”

 

Born Nancy Lester in 1911, Nancy Bennett-Donohue sits on her father Captain Frank Lester's lap in this photograph with her mother Sadie Eames and her brother Francis Lester.Bennett Family Photo