Union celebrates 100th Birthday of football alumnus

Published on
July 28, 2016

Union celebrates 100th Birthday of football alumnus Union College joined family and friends over the weekend to celebrate the 100th birthday of football alumnus Hughes Bennett. Bennett officially hit the centennial mark on July 27.

Brian Strunk, Director of Annual Giving and Alumni Relations, along with Jon North, Director of Sports Broadcasting and External Operations, joined Bennett’s family in London for the 100th Birthday celebration. Tim Curry, Director of Union College Athletics, and Union alumni Glenn Proffitt helped to coordinate the visit.

Strunk and North greeted Bennett and wished him a happy birthday prior to gifting him a Union College football jersey sporting the number 100. They also gave Bennett a football signed by the Bulldog coaching staff, commemorating his athletic career at Union.

“I was delighted to attend Mr. Bennett’s birthday gathering and honor him with gifts from the college,” Strunk said.

Strunk said Hughes’ connection to the college is a deep one – he’s related to Alvis S. Bennett, one of the incorporating members of Union College as a distinct legal entity in 1921. Alvis served as the first secretary of the Board of Trustees under the reconstituted Union College. Hughes is also related to former President Conway Boatman.

Bennett was born July 27, 1916 in Owensboro. His career at Union began in 1937. He played and lettered in football, basketball and baseball. His family said he also ran track and pole vaulted. Bennett graduated from Union College in 1941.

Bennett’s life following his time at Union included military service with the United States Army. Bennett began service to our country during World War II, enlisting on May 20, 1942.

He would serve with the 338th Infantry Regiment, 85th Division of the Army, “Custer’s Division.” He would come home to his family among America’s greatest generation as a Second Lieutenant, a combat appointment he earned in Italy. Bennett was later awarded the Bronze Star and a Purple Heart.  

Bennett would return to Kentucky and begin a career teaching and coaching. He worked in Cromwell and Hartford, Kentucky prior to coming to London, where he would spend the rest of his career. Bennett taught at Hazel Green High School and Laurel County High School. He coached multiple sports at both schools including football, basketball and baseball.

Bennett still resides in London. He married Essie Jean Feltner. Their children include daughters Beverly Grimes and Vicki Finley. They have three grandchildren – Greg Grimes, Derrick Grimes and Summer Taylor and seven great-grandchildren.