Don and Esther Bennett
Don Bennett joined the Rotary Club of Santa Barbara Sunrise in 1985 and he served as club president in 1993-1994. During his 30 years as a Rotarian he was active in every facet of the club. He was known for leading our club's Salvation Army bell ringing project every holiday season and his Ole and Lena jokes. Don was a good Rotarian, a kind friend and gentleman. We will miss you, Don. 
Fun Rotary connection: Don Bennett was Bill Abel's junior high algebra teacher in 1958!
Don's obituary was published in the Santa Barbara Independent. There will be a Memorial Service on February 17, 2024 at 2 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church of Santa Barbara with a reception immediately following. The service will also include remembrances of Esther since the pandemic prevented a public service at the time of her death.
In 2001, Don wrote this short piece about his childhood for an issue of the Early Bird Bugle. 
On one of the hottest August days on record in the Midwest, my grandfather (a country doctor) delivered me in the back bedroom of my parent’s home. It was so hot that they soaked sheets with cold water and hung them in the room in an attempt to lower the temperature.
My first job was carrying the local evening newspaper. I had to go house to house and collect every other Saturday morning. I believe the price was 35-cents for two weeks, plus tips, which sometimes were freshly baked cookies. I graduated from that to carrying out groceries at the local Safeway on Saturdays. We weren’t allowed to take the shopping carts outside, so I literally carried the sacks out in my arms.
In junior high I was the tallest boy in my class, so I got to play center on our basketball team. But at that point I quit growing, while others shot on up over six feet. I played some in high school, but my skills didn’t grow either.
I seemed to have more talent in the area of music, so my most successful and enjoyable activities in school centered around the band. One of my fond memories is going to the county school houses for community socials and performing in a German band. We loved the homemade pie that was served afterwards.
Since I lived in town, I liked to go visit friends on the farm on weekends and in the summer. I got to drive the tractor, ride the hay horse, milk the cows, slop the hogs, etc.
After graduating from college, I moved to Santa Barbara to begin a career that lasted for 38 years.  I was a “swinging” bachelor for six years, then married the girl next door. We have two sons and a two year old granddaughter.
In 2010, on the occasion of the club’s 25th Anniversary Gala Celebration, Don wrote this memory of his year as club president.
In 1985, Rotary International became involved in the world-wide effort to eradicate Polio.  By 1988, all clubs were asked to be a part of the Polio Plus campaign to raise funds, with a goal of $120, 000,000.
I was asked to chair the campaign for Sunrise Rotary.  With vivid memories of the impact of polio in the early 1950’s, I knew that this was something that I could be enthusiastic about.  This was my first major responsibility in the club.  A committee was formed and we began to organize to raise money.  Every member of the club was asked to make a pledge that could be paid over three years.  Another event that was well received was having a continental breakfast once a month, with the money saved by not having a full breakfast going to Polio Plus. 
There were also many small events throughout the campaign that raised money.  At the end of the three year campaign, Sunrise Rotary had raised $33,000.  Worldwide, approximately double the initial goal was raised.  The goal to eradicate Polio from the world was the year 2000.  Currently there are only four countries that are not Polio free, and the efforts continue.  There have been many funding campaigns since the initial one in 1988, and RI is currently raising $200 million to meet matching money donated by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  Several members of our club have participated in National Immunization Days in countries still striving to become polio free. Our club continues to be a leader in the district with its financial support of Polio Plus. 
It is very difficult to get to the 100% eradication, especially in the underdeveloped countries.  But Rotary is committed to achieve that goal.  I hope that it will happen in my lifetime.