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James Albert Bennett, 80, passed away peacefully with family surrounding him, on Friday, November 3, 2023, at MUSC Health Columbia Medical Center Downtown. He was born March 2, 1943, in Westville, SC to Will and Nettie (McKenzie) Bennett, Sr. He was a 1961 graduate of Jackson High School and a 1963 graduate of South Carolina Area Trade School currently known as Denmark Technical College, in Denmark, SC. While a barbering student he met and married Maxine Fuller on August 5, 1964, at Williams Chapel A.M.E. church in Orangeburg, SC. Mrs. Bennett was the first licensed female barber in Orangeburg, SC. To this union two children were born, Rodney Marcellus Bennett (Maria) Borrego Springs, CA and Kimberly Rochelle Bennett, Cassatt, SC.
Mr. Bennett opened Bennett’s Barber Shop on January 8, 1969,his wife’s birthday. He hired the shop’s first female barber, LaVerne Brown, in 1969 and the second female barber, Janice Simon, in 1983. He became a Barber Instructor in the mid-1990s. As an instructor he enjoyed witnessing his student’sgrowth as licensed Barbers and owners of their own Barber Shops. He founded the Kershaw County Barbers Association. Mr. Bennett maintained great relationships with fellow merchants. Over the years he met and developed friendships with numerous customers. Due to health concerns, he retired in 2011.
Mr. Bennett worked at Discount Foods groceries in the meat department while in high school. In the mid-1960s he was the third black Correctional officer hired at Wateree River Correctional Institution in Rembert, SC. He was the Dorm Supervisor over the boy’s dorm at Boylan Haven Mather Academy in Camden, SC. He worked as a warehouseman at Standard Warehouse in Lugoff, SC. Mr. Bennett also worked at the Camden Military Academy in Camden, SC, as a barber. He also worked at Peters Barbershop before opening his own barber shop.
Some of the accomplishments Mr. Bennett would want to be remembered for; his membership in Composite Lodge #372, former President of the Cedar Cemetery Association, Camden First CDC, Wateree Community Actions and Trinity Apartments. He enjoyed hunting, fishing, watching boxing, football, basketball, MSNBC, HGTV, the Andy Griffith Show, In the Heat of Night and Jimmy Swaggart, televangelist. Mr. Bennett also enjoyed Rev. B. W. Smith’s sermons; his favorite sermon was Watch Them Dogs. He was also an avid dog lover. He loved spending time with family and friends.
While as a member of Camden First United Methodist ChurchMr. Bennett proudly served in the following positions; Business Manager, Chairman of the Finance Committee and Chairman of Trinity Apartments to name a few. He was also a recipient of the United Methodist Men “Father of the Year Award” on June 18, 2000.
In addition to his wife and parents, Mr. Bennett was preceded in death by his siblings, Robert Kersey, Sr., Ophelia Kersey, Garland Tucker, Sr., Peter Bennett, Sr., Johnnie Mae McKnight, Eugene Collins, Henderson Bennett, Will Bennett, Sr., Harrison Bennett and grandson, Brandon McCloud.
Mr. Bennett leaves to cherish his memories, his son, Bryant Carlos Bennett (Sharon) Darlington, SC; a daughter, Sandra McCloud, New York, New York; brother, Deacon O. Michael Bennett, Camden, SC; sisters, Nettie McClendon, Cassatt, SC;Vivian Barnes and Carolynn Houston, Mount Vernon, New York; grandchildren, Jon-Michael Bradley Magee and Marcellus Maxwell-James Bennett, Borrego Springs, CA; ViondraMcCloud, New York, New York; great grandchildren, GiaChrysostome, New York, New York; and Juan Agustin Magee, Borrego Springs, CA; brother-in-law, Dr. Joseph W. Fuller, III, Orangeburg, SC; sisters-in-law, Edith Collins, Pearl Bennett, Alberta Bennett, Camden, SC; Linda Bennett, Cassatt, SC;aunts, Etherine Pollard (Johnny), Maryann Raysor, Carrie Raysor, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; uncles, Edgar Raysor, Jr.and Thomas Raysor, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Special cousin, Angie Fuller Jefferson, Blythewood, SC; and Special family friends, Rev. Lloyd Grecia and Brian Mayes, Lugoff, SC; Toni McGrirt, Joe Counts, Edna Drakeford, Doug Jones, Annette Tucker, Janet J. Searles, Camden, SC; Willie Mae Carney, Cassatt, SC; Alisa Dixon, Rembert, SC; Wayne LaGrant, Columbia, SC; and Shamelle Clark Jones, Williamston, SC, along with a host of nieces, nephews and other loving relatives and friends.