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Obituary - Sara Lenora Neville Bennett, Ph.D.
Joiner-Anderson Funeral Home & Crematory
Sara Lenora Neville Bennett, Ph.D.
Dr. Sara Lenora Neville Bennett, a sixth generation Bulloch Countian, a descendant of John Neville, who received 1,000 acres in Bulloch County in 1790, was born on the family farm on March 8, 1931, to William Gesmon Neville and Marguerite Nunnally Neville. She was the fifth child and the last of the siblings born to this union. She died on September 10, 2020, as a result of COVID-19, contracted on that same family farmland, now site of The Lodge at Bethany, her home for the past four and one-half years.
    Dr. Bennett was a 1948 honor graduate of Statesboro High School. As a student who oftentimes rode her Palomino Ledo to school, she was active in the band, the science club, the photography club and the girls’ basketball team. She enjoyed school and those interests throughout her life.
    On July 11, 1948, she and Lovett Bennett of Sylvania, Georgia, eloped to Ridgeland, South Carolina, and married. Their marriage lasted two days short of 61 years when Lovett died on July 9, 2009. There were three children born to this union, six grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. They made their home in Sylvania until 1966 when they moved to her family home after the death of her father.
    As a non-traditional student with three young children and a very supportive husband, she entered Georgia Southern College in 1960. She received her B.S. in biology with a minor in mathematics and a B.S. Ed. in general science in 1964 from Georgia Southern College. She received her M.S. biology degree as one of the first two students in the program at Georgia Southern College and was employed as an instructor of biology from 1966 to 1971. She continued her education at the University of Georgia, earning a Ph.D. in microbiology in 1975. She was promoted to assistant professor in 1971, to associate professor in 1977 and to professor in 1985.
    She retired May 31, 2004, and was named professor emerita.
    Dr. Bennett belonged to several honor societies and was the recipient of numerous awards. She was a member of Alpha Gamma Omicron, The Society of Sigma Xi and Golden Key Honor Society. She was selected as Advisor of the Year from Georgia Southern University and was selected the national winner of Outstanding Advisor Award from the Southeast National Academic Advising Association region. She was an elected fellow of the Georgia Academy of Science, recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Department of Biology and recipient of the Margaret Green Award for Excellence in Teaching, Southeastern Branch of the American Society for Microbiology.
    Memberships were held in the Georgia Academy of Science, Association of Southeastern Biologists, Genetics Society of America, American Society for Microbiology, Genetics Society of Georgia, Southeastern Immunologists, American Association for the Advancement of Science and the North American Research Society – Sigma Xi.
    She held several offices including appointment to the board of directors for the Genetics Society of Georgia, president of the Genetics Society of Georgia, president of the Georgia Academy of Science and president for the Southeastern Branch of the American Society of Microbiology.
    Dr. Bennett was a researcher and teacher, but her forté was mentoring graduate students. She was the major professor for many M.S. students and served as a member of other thesis committees. She excelled at directing the course work of the pre-medical and pre-dental students, successfully getting “her” students into the schools of their choice.
    At her retirement, Dr. Steve Vives noted, “As educators, we would like to think we pass along something about truth to students who use that information and pass it on and that our academic genealogy moves forever forward in time. As one stanza of a poem by an unknown author says,
    'Truth never dies. The ages come and go.
    The mountains wear away, the stars retire.
    Destruction lays earth’s mighty cities low;
    And empires, states and dynasties expire;
    But caught and handed onward by the wise,
    Truth never dies.’”
    Dr. Bennett was predeceased by her husband, Lovett; and her daughter, Barbara Bennett Leapard; as well as by her parents and her siblings, William Gesmon Neville Jr., Jessie Stafford Neville, Marguerite Nunnally Neville Guin, and William Josiah Neville. Ommie Mainer, her close friend and caregiver, preceded her in death by one day.
    She is survived by her daughter, Sara Carolyn Bennett Broucek, and her husband, William Samuel Broucek; and her son, Lovett Bennett Jr., and his wife, Missy Mallard Bennett, all of Statesboro; the grandchildren, Samuel Josiah Broucek, and his wife, Michelle Shaw Broucek; and William Bennett Broucek of Statesboro; Emily Leapard Baker and her husband, Matthew Joseph Baker, of Carmel, Indiana; Sara Leapard Saunders of Oxford, Ohio; William Lovett Bennett and his wife, Megan Troutt Bennett, of Brooklyn, New York; and Michael Hampton Bennett of Atlanta, Georgia. The great-grandchildren, Josiah Charles Broucek and Emily Anne Broucek; Charles David Saunders, Thomas Lovett Saunders and Lilah Victoria Badics; Bennett Elizabeth Baker and Evan James Baker; and Lucy Ann Bennett. She is also survived by two sisters-in-law and three brothers-in-law, as well as numerous nieces and nephews.
    Dr. Bennett was a member of the Statesboro Primitive Baptist Church, where she was the longest serving member at the time of her death. A memorial service will be held there on Saturday, September 12, 2020, at 11 a.m. Pews will be marked for appropriate social distancing relative to COVID-19 directives. Masks will be available in the vestibule. Burial will be in Eastside Cemetery.
    In lieu of flowers, the family requests that remembrances be made to the Sara Bennett Biology Scholarship (0595), Georgia Southern University Foundation, Inc., P.O. Box 8040, Statesboro, GA 30460; or Mercer Law School, 1021 Georgia Avenue, Macon, GA 31207.
    Services will be streamed live at or
    Friends may sign the online register book at
    Joiner-Anderson Funeral Home & Crematory of Statesboro is in charge of arrangements.

Statesboro Herald, September 12, 2020
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