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PEKIN ~ Laurin Vaughn “Lonnie” Bennett, 73, of Pekin, passed away unexpectedly at 8:36 p.m. Wednesday, June 21, 2017 at UnityPoint Health – Methodist in Peoria.

He was born July 28, 1943 in Bloomington to John and Mary (Hayes) Bennett.  His parents preceded him in death.

Lonnie met Iris Scott on a blind date and five weeks later were married on November 11, 1966 at Trinity Lutheran Church in Pekin.  They celebrated 50 years together.

He is survived by his loving wife, Iris; two daughters, JoLene Bennett of Peoria and Candice Bennett of Woodstock, Georgia; one sister, Patricia (Fritz) Alexander of Pekin; one brother, John (Connie) Bennett of Morton; and father-in-law, Bill Maskel of Pekin.

Lonnie joined the United States Army in 1963 and was a paratrooper with the 173rd Airborne Division.  He was stationed in Okinawa for two years then was with the first full unit to be sent to Vietnam.  He was with a 21 man recon platoon when they were hit with mortar rounds.  Lonnie was severely injured during that stint and was sent to Valley Forge, Pennsylvania to recover.  After his lengthy recovery, he was sent to Fort Campbell, Kentucky where he served with the 101st Airborne Division.  He received the Purple Heart for injuries sustained during combat.

After returning home, he went to work for Caterpillar, Inc. as a metallographer and retired in 1998 after 30 years of service.  He worked for the Pekin Park District as a starter at Parkview Golf Course for 10 years.

Lonnie raced at Peoria Speedway in 1968 and 1969, and won driver of the year winning 13 out of 16 feature races his first year of racing.  The following year, he won the amateur Championship.  He loved watching the Atlanta Braves, Minnesota Vikings, Illini games and NASCAR racing.

He was a member of Trinity Lutheran Church in Pekin.

His memorial service will be at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, June 27, 2017 at Trinity Lutheran Church, 700 South 4th Street, Pekin.  The Rev. David Spaeth will officiate.  Visitation will be from 10 to 11:15 a.m. Tuesday at the church.  Inurnment will be at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday at Glendale Memorial Gardens in Pekin, where military rites will be accorded by the United States Army.

Arrangements are by Preston-Hanley Funeral Homes & Crematory in Pekin.

Memorial contributions may be made to Trinity Lutheran Church “Giving Tree” Fund, 700 South 4th Street, Pekin, IL 61554, Good Shepherd Lutheran School Building Fund, 3201 Court Street, Pekin, IL 61554, or to the Disabled American Veterans Heart of Illinois Chapter #1, Post Office Box 472, Chillicothe, IL 61523.

The family would like to thank the care givers at UnityPoint Health – Methodist CVICU and ICU for their compassion and care of Lonnie.

To express condolences online, visit www.preston-hanley.com