Dr. Charles Blanchard’s ostensible obituary for the late R.J. Bennett, trustee and reliable benefactor, appears on the front page of the March 5, 1924, Record. Ever vigilant for additional funding, President Blanchard moves quickly from pious memorializing to a frank review of Bennett’s previous financial contributions to Wheaton College, and a rather anxious expectation for one more posthumous gift. It is not known whether the school received it.
Mr. R.J. Bennett, LLD of Pasadena, California, for many years a leading wholesale merchant in Chicago, recently passed away. Mr. Bennett was a member of Ravenswood Congregational Church and cooperated with most of the missionary churches of Chicago for many years. He was one of the most influential and useful members of the Board of Trustees of Wheaton College. He and Mr. Charles H. Case, also of Chicago, both on this board, were both men of large wealth and generous activities, and were among the most conservative and helpful of our trustees. Mr. Case gave to the college by will one-half the residuum of his estate. This has not yet been received, but is still in the courts. It is supposed that this provision will ultimately furnish Wheaton College one-hundred-ten or fifteen thousand dollars. Mr. Bennett died suddenly, painlessly, and restfully, after his long, honored, and useful life. It would be a long story to tell of the different college activities with which he has been associated. Improvements on the campus, the erection of the academy building, the increase of endowment funds, together with constant contributions, were a part of his work. We have heard a number of statements respecting his will which at the present time we are not able to confirm. Some two or three years ago Mr. Bennett said to us that at that time he was supposed to be worth about two-hundred-fifty thousand. A year ago or less when he was in Chicago he said to us that in his will he had provided for his family and personal friends and had directed that all the residuum of his estate should be paid to Wheaton College. We have not seen his will. It was offered for probate in California, February 27th. We have been told not on authority that the specified bequests amounted to something like one-hundred-twenty thousand dollars. If this should prove to be true, and if the amount of his estate has not changed materially from his statement to us several years since, the amount coming to the college would be very considerable, but we are not able to give more surmises and reports at this time. The facts will appear in due time.