Lifelong Helena resident George Tyack Bennett, 94, passed away peacefully the morning of May 6th, 2023, at his home in Helena.
George was born in Helena on February 1st , 1929, to Katherine Murray Bennett, later an employee of the Hawkins-Lindstrom clinic, and Harry P. Bennett, a Helena lawyer. Both were natives of Butte. “Tyack” was the family name of his Cornish paternal grandmother. His grandparents were residents of Butte in the 1880’s. He married Mary Katherine Fabich in September 1965, and raised two sons – Harry and John Bennett.
George was baptized and confirmed in the St. Peters Episcopal Church in Helena. He served as an acolyte, altar boy and choir member. George maintained his spirituality throughout his long life.
He graduated from Hawthorne Elementary, Helena High (where lifelong friendships were formed with Bob Morgan, Jack Ratchye, and many others) and the University of Michigan with BBA, MBA, and Juris Doctor in Law degrees. He also spent a year at NYU pursuing his Masters in taxation. He practiced law in Helena for 50 years, receiving his pin from the State Bar in 2007.
George loved horses. He started riding gated horses at the Daly Mansion in the Bitterroot in his early years, where he rode every morning during the summers. After law school and returning to Helena, he purchased a Morgan cow pony and joined the Trail Riders. His mother, Katherine, owned an American Saddler and they and Mary Kay enjoyed caring for and riding their horses.
He, with many of his classmates, enlisted in the Naval Reserves as seniors in high school. After completing his undergraduate work in Michigan, he was called into active service during the Korean War and was a Chief Petty Officer on Midway Island.
He was advised by a relative on graduation from law school not to return to Montana because it was a “economic and cultural backwash”. He ignored this advice because Montana was his home and his love. He never regretted this decision because of his wonderful friends, the challenge and success of his law practice, skiing, fly fishing, backpacking, working his horse and mountain climbing – including a summit of Granite Peak, countless hikes in Glacier Park and especially the Pinter range, where the family has a summer home on Moose Lake. Moose Lake was George’s most treasured place – and we are convinced his spirit is there now.
George was elected the Lewis and Clark County chairman of the Republican party and served as a Montana Representative and State Senator. He was elected to the Montana Senate from a 3- county district and campaigning in those counties involved meeting and talking to a diverse number of great Montanans, reinforcing his decision to return to the state after his studies. He served in the 1974-1975 legislative session, which considered the issues raised by Roe vs. Wade, the Equal Rights Amendment and implementing the changes in law under the newly formed Montana constitution.
He was also elected President of his junior class at Helena High, served as the co-captain of the track team and lettered in both football and track. He was also a member of the HHS and
Belmont ski teams.
George was also president of the Helena YMCA board, President of the Helena Navy League, First District Bar Association, and the Helena Kiwanis Club. He also served on the Montana Supreme Court Board of Bar Examiners drafting bar exam questions.
He is survived by his wife of 58 years, May Kay; sons Harry (Bethany) Bennett, John (Shawnee) Bennett and grandchildren Nicholas, Corinne, and Ava. He was preceded in death by his mother, father, and younger sister Alice Bennett Petrie, who passed away last year. There will be a celebration of life later this summer at the family cabin at Moose Lake.
While George’s family misses him terribly, we are thankful to all those who helped him in his final months. Special thanks go to St. Peter’s Health Hospice, with specific recognition to Cheryl, Angie, and Nicole. The family also wants to extend its heartfelt thanks to Mary Kay’s sister Ellen, who was instrumental in helping Mary Kay care for George.
The family asks that memorials or donations in George’s name are directed to the St. Peters Health Foundation – with a request the contribution goes toward the hospice program. The website for the foundation is https://www.stpetes.org/foundation or call (406) 444-2370.
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