Frank Bennett

Earl Franklin “Frank” Bennett, age 77, passed away at Hiland Cottage, Petoskey, MI, on July 27, 2018, with his family by his side.

Frank was born November 5, 1940, in Norway, MI, to the late John Earl and Lulu (Wilks) Bennett. Frank graduated from Iron Mountain High School where he met Sharon Zambon. They were married on August 27, 1960 for almost 58 loving years.

Frank pursued his dream of becoming a pilot by working as a mechanic for Fontana Aviation, in exchange for flying lessons. With his pilot license and mechanical know how he landed his dream job as a pilot for the DNR and moved his family to Gaylord in 1970. Frank retired in 1997 and with Sharon as his copilot they traveled all 50 states, Canada, and Europe.

Frank was an active member of the Fraternal Order of Eagles in Gaylord since 1980, he also was a member of the State Employees Retirement Association.

Frank was preceded in death by his parents, infant daughter Wendy Kay, sister and brother- in- law Carol and Al Heidenreich.

He is survived by his wife Sharon, daughters Renee (Doug) Becker of Gaylord, Debbie (Jack) Janisch of Johannesburg, Karla (Lawrence) Frabotta of Macomb. Grandchildren Katie and Brad Balesky, Sheri Becker, Gabriela and Adriana Frabotta, Brother-in-law Terry (Candy) Zambon, along with several nieces and nephews. Additional family members Dann and Jeanne Balesky.

A Celebration of Life will take place at the Nelson Funeral Home on Wednesday, August 1, 2018 at 12pm, with burial following at Fairview Cemetery. Visitation will begin at 10am on Wednesday, August 1 and continue until the time of service.

Memorial Contributions can be made to Hiland Cottage Hospice House in Petoskey.

Arrangements were entrusted to Nelson Funeral Home and Cremation Service, P.O. Box 1548, Gaylord, MI, 49734.

11 Comments

  1. Michelle Reichenbacher July 30, 2018 at 4:25 pm - Reply

    Deb and Jack, Sharon and family,

    We’re heartbroken at the loss of a wonderful soul. I always enjoyed my visits with Frank, he always had me giggling! Sending our love and prayers to his family and friends. Love, Michelle and George.

  2. Pam and Jordan Awrey July 30, 2018 at 5:08 pm - Reply

    Renee, Deb, Karla and Sharon, Our thoughts and prayers are with in this time of sadness. Peace and light Frank, you are flying high with the angels now.
    Love, Pam and Jordan Awrey

  3. Randy & Jeannie McKenzie July 30, 2018 at 5:57 pm - Reply

    So sad to here Frank has passed on. He was our Air 5 and one of the best DNR pilots. He directed us into the most remote fire locations and always had our Back. Canada Creek Fire in 1980, he saved me from getting over run by fire. So many great memories of old times. Regretfully I’m not able to make his memorial, I’m in Idaho on a major fire. Thoughts and prayers are sent your way. rpm

  4. Dawn O'Rourke-Bodrie July 30, 2018 at 7:07 pm - Reply

    So Sorry for your loss Sharon, Renee, Debbie, Karla, Frank was a Great man and a big part of my life growing up. My Hearts goes out to you and the rest of the Family. Love Dawn O’Rourke and Family.

  5. Paul/Lisa Witgen July 31, 2018 at 8:26 am - Reply

    Please accept our most sincere condolences of Frank’s passing. We will always remember his stories as a pilot with the DNR. We loved his sense of humor, as tears rolled down his cheeks, and taking off his glasses to wipe his eyes. His stories made us laugh whether they were about ice fishing, hunting, or memories of being at our hunting camp. We will never forget the relationship he had with our brother Kurt, much like a father and son. The model he made of my Dad’s World War II airplane will be a real memento to keep in our family and remember. We will miss your presence in our lives.

  6. Dianne Newman July 31, 2018 at 2:01 pm - Reply

    HIGH FLIGHT, Frank! Am sure Bob Nichols will be glad to have you in the seat beside him again! It was a treat to meet and interview you last year! Condolences to the family. Wings up! Dianne Newman

  7. Karen Blakely July 31, 2018 at 4:13 pm - Reply

    Please accept my heartfelt condolences on the loss of your husband, father, grandfather and Uncle.

  8. Nancy Madagame July 31, 2018 at 8:20 pm - Reply

    Sorry to hear the news of Franks passing, being neighbors for as long as I remember it was always a treat when he and Sharon would pull up and stop if they saw me in the yard. He always has some smart comment for me. He always made me laugh. I’m sure he is at peace looking down at us with a smart comment about what we are doing of course laughing too.

  9. JIll (Warren) Washburn August 1, 2018 at 9:33 pm - Reply

    So sorry I just heard or I would have been there . I will aways remember the good time our parents had together going to all our Basketball games my heart goes out to all of you. RIP Frank
    Love to all

  10. Barb (Nichols) Chiles August 2, 2018 at 2:31 pm - Reply

    I’m sorry to hear of Mr. Bennett’s passing. I always enjoyed listening to him and my father talk of flying. I’m sorry for your loss.

  11. Diana Johnston McSweeney August 7, 2018 at 6:29 pm - Reply

    My prayers are with all of you at this time. I’m so sorry for your loss.

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2018-07-30T14:56:52+00:00