Family mourns Bob Bennett, shares stories from senator’s life and career

Posted at 9:14 PM, May 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-04 23:14:09-04

Jim Bennett says his dad, known to Utahns as Senator Bob Bennett, stayed connected to politics to the very end.

Bennett died Wednesday due to complications from pancreatic cancer and a recent stroke. Reflecting on his father's life, his son described a moment from the last few days.

"He said to me, 'I want to talk to every Muslim, to every Muslim in the country, and thank them for being in the country and apologize for the Republican party for Donald Trump,” Jim Bennett said.

For many, it is that frank and principled nature that defined the Senator’s career. At one point in his career, Jim Bennett said his father was late to an event because he forgot about it.

His press secretary lied and said the senator was stuck in traffic. Afterward, Senator Bennett pulled his press secretary aside to deliver a message.

"'I want you to know that I don't ever want you to lie for me, and I will never expect you to lie for me, I will never ask you to lie for me.' And she cited that as an example of his integrity,” Jim Bennett said.

Jim said his father often talked about wanting to get back to Utah. His battle with pancreatic cancer prevented that from happening, but it didn’t stop a stream of people from coming to his side.

"It's really gratifying to see how many other people loved him," Jim Bennett said. "His last few days were spent receiving well wishes from people all over the place, and it was really touching to us to see how deeply he was loved."

Many lawmakers and politicians from Utah or with ties to the state issued statements mourning Bennett's passing.