A service for James “Verle” Bennett was held 10:30 a.m. Feb. 20, at the Central Christian Church in Jefferson. Family greeted friends one hour prior to the service. Visitation was Thursday from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. at Hastings Funeral Home in Jefferson. Pastor Sheldon Henderson of the Central Christian Church provided words of comfort. Honorary bearers were: Eliot Schilling, Helena Leggitt, Blaise Schilling, Lydia Leggitt and Ava Schilling. Casket bearers were: Nicole Friess-Schilling, Jamie Leggitt, Travis Friess, Jack Schilling, Dustin Leggitt and Butch Ganoe. Danille Curtis was the pianist and Nicole Friess-Schilling was the soloist. Interment took place at the Jefferson Cemetery with Military Rites by Army Military Honors- Camp Dodge, American Legion Post #11 and VFW Post #9599 out of Jefferson. Following the service at the cemetery was a luncheon at the church.
James Verle Bennett was born in Jackson Township, Greene County, on Sept. 28, 1921 to James Earl and Kathryn (Ganoe) Bennett. The family owned and operated a Sorghum Mill for many years. He graduated from Jefferson High School in 1942 and soon after, enlisted in the United States Army on Aug. 26, 1942. He served in France and Germany during WWII and was wounded, captured in Germany. He spent many months as a POW in a German camp before being released by Russian forces. He received the Purple Heart, Good Conduct, Victory Medals and other metals. After his service, Verle returned to Greene County where he met Nadine Calvert. They were married Jan. 18, 1947 and made their home on a rented farm. The couple had one daughter, Becky Ann, and worked side by side for many years on the farm. Verle also had a corn shelling business and in addition to his daily work, he would drive a truck at night, hauling livestock or supplies to Omaha. He had a daunting work ethic and farmed for several years with his cousin, Keith Weaver, before saving up enough money to purchase his first farm, which led to the purchase of additional farms over the years. Though he and Nadine moved to town in the early 1980’s, Verle continued working the farm with his son-in-law, Nick Friess, and later in life, grand-daughter Nicole and her late husband, Chris. He loved the land and the hard work it took to make a good life on it. He enjoyed fishing and going on trips with his wife, Nadine (especially their vacations to Hawaii), and attending his grand-children’s many activities and performances. Verle volunteered countless hours over the years and gave selflessly to many groups in the community. He especially enjoyed his work with the County Farm (Cedar Lanes Estate) folks and later, with the Genesis Development and Aktion Club crew. He was a dedicated member of the Kiwanis club for many years and served in many positions on the church board at Central Christian Church. Verle enjoyed the county fair, and devoted many years to the 4-H program and animal barns. He was a proud member of the VFW, American Legion and POW/MIA group. He has received many awards over the years for his community service, including the Walter Zeller Award, presented to him by the Kiwanis Aktion Club. He was a participant of the Honor Flights for Veterans program, and this was a very touching and memorable experience for him. He was the last surviving WWII POW from Greene County. His life was one of hard work, service to others, and love of country and family. He has touched the lives of many and the world is a better place because of him.
Verle was preceded in death by his parents, daughter Becky, wife Nadine, grand-son-in-law Christopher Schilling brother Dale and other brothers-in-law and sister-in-laws. Survived by grand-children: Nicole Friess-Schilling, Jamie (Dustin) Leggitt all of Jefferson & Travis (Lora) Friess of Carroll, Iowa; Great-grandchildren: Jack, Eliot, Ava & C. Blaise Schilling, Lydia and Helena Leggitt of Jefferson; son-in-law, Nick Friess of Ohio; sister-in-laws: Maxine (Duane) Dunlop, Billie Pevestorf all of Jefferson; and brother-in-law, Robert (Margaret) Calvert of Charles City, Iowa; nieces, nephews and friends.