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1928 Dr. Joseph R. Bennett 2024

Dr. Joseph R. Bennett

July 12, 1928 — May 27, 2024



Dr. Joseph Bennett passed away at home peacefully on the evening of May 27, 2024, surrounded by his beloved family and caretakers in High Shoals, Georgia. He was 95 years old.

Joseph Richard Bennett was born on July 12, 1928 to Joseph William Bennett and Sarah Elizabeth Bennett in Augusta, Georgia. One of 11 children, Joe was raised with a strong bond and deep appreciation of both his family and of the Lord. He was a graduate of Richmond County Military Academy in Augusta, class of 1946.

He graduated from Johnson Bible College in Knoxville, Tennessee, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1953. While at Johnson Bible College, he met his wife, Magda Lelia Dunn. They were married for 71 wonderful years and raised 5 children together: Joe, Dawn, Jim, Starr, and Jonathan. 

He attended Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana, where he obtained a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Divinity. In 1970, Joe was appointed as the Vice President of the Christian College of Georgia in Athens and became the President of the Christian College of Georgia in 1978. Before retiring in 1982, he received an honorary doctorate in Divinity. After retiring from the Christian College of Georgia, he began working with his wife Magda in their joint venture, Family Life Enrichment Centers Community.

Joe served as minister of congregations across the country, including in Alabama, Indiana, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, and Georgia. He was the minister at Centennial Christian Church for 46 years and retired at the age of 86. Due to his fondness for the hymn, “Amazing Grace”, Joe earned the nickname “The Amazing Grace Preacher” and had a penchant for spontaneously bursting into song, whether in a crowd or within the confines of the church. Joe was revered for his power at the pulpit and his unique ability to profoundly touch the hearts of his audience with his sermons. 

Joseph, better known as “Joe,” “Dr. Bennett,” or “Grandpa,” was a devoted husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather. He is survived by his sister, Nancy Floyd (Ervin); his five children, Joseph R. Bennett II (Sue), Dawn B. Howard (John), James D. Bennett (Rhonda), Starr B. Thomas (Jeff), and Jonathan W. Bennett; grandchildren Emily, Joseph III, Elizabeth, David, Jeffery, Jesse, Sarah, and Jackson, as well as seven great grandchildren. He is also survived by extended family in Augusta.

Along with countless memories, those that knew Joe were lucky to experience his love of language, his natural ability to tell a great story, and his one-of-a-kind humor. We will miss him, but we will never take for granted the time we were blessed to have with him. We take refuge in knowing that he is reunited with his family, friends, and the love of his life–Magda. His family expresses deep gratitude to physicians Dr. William Rigsby and Dr. Nedsely Vila, all of his loving caregivers through the years, St. Mary’s Home Health, St. Mary’s Hospital and Georgia Hospice Care.

The family will receive friends this Friday, May 31, from 5-7 p.m. at Lord & Stephens Funeral Home, West, Watkinsville. A funeral service will be held on Saturday, June 1 at 11:00 a.m. at High Shoals Christian Church with Jeff Thomas officiating. Interment will follow at Thomas Cemetery. 

Flowers are accepted; however, donations can also be made to the Joseph R. & Magda D. Bennett Preaching and Teaching Scholarship Fund at Johnson University in Knoxville, TN. Checks may be mailed to 7900 Johnson Drive, Knoxville, TN 37998, or you may give online at

Lord and Stephens Funeral Home, WEST, Watkinsville, is in charge of arrangements. 

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Dr. Joseph R. Bennett, please visit our flower store.


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