An educational facility at Northside Hospital-Forsyth was officially rededicated during a ceremony Monday morning.
Friends and colleagues of Everett Bennett, who died March 2 at age 78, recalled his commitment to Forsyth County during the event, which officially re-opened the Bennett Education Center.
The facility was closed for about eight weeks to receive several upgrades, including new paint, carpet, furniture and improvements to the meeting room’s kitchen area.
The center is used by the hospital for training and blood drives and by numerous nonprofit organizations for meetings and events.
The late Bennett and his widow, Teresa, who attended the ceremony with their two grown children and five grandchildren, were long-time supporters of the hospital and numerous community organizations.
“Everett didn’t know how to stop when it came to the good of Forsyth County because his heart always belonged to this county,” said George Ivey, retired marketing director for the hospital.
Ivey also worked with Bennett on the board of Georgia Baptist Medical Center, which purchased the county’s former hospital on Old Samaritan Drive.
“It wasn’t long after that that Everett saw a transition from rural to suburbia taking place, an emergence of affluence and a great influx of population,” Ivey said, “and with his eagle eye, he found a piece of property on the southeast corner of [Ga.] 400 and Ga. 20 and began to work toward acquiring that property.
“I will never forget the day we met … and turned the soil that would become this magnificent building that we’re sitting in today.”
The current hospital site opened in 1999. The Bennett Education Center has been a part of it since its opening.
Lynn Jackson, administrator of Northside Hospital-Forsyth, said the center will continue to be used for a long time.
“Its purpose will remain the same in perpetuity, and that will be to provide an education space and a free meeting space for nonprofits in our community who desperately need meeting space to do their work,” she said. “It’s been well-loved and will continue in that purpose.”
The center is an appropriate tribute to the Bennetts, said Michael Hogan, who worked with Everett Bennett to found the LEADER teen driving education program.
Hogan said the program has helped more than 6,000 students in the county learn to more safely operate vehicles.
“You can be assured that [Everett Bennett’s] memory will live on after the education baton has been passed,” Hogan said. “The baton is being picked up by Northside for this center, and who could pick a better group than the Northside facilities?”
Everett Bennett’s ability to inspire others was also addressed during Monday’s ceremony.
Greg Wahl, managing partner of Quality Parking Valet Management, which oversees the hospital’s valet service, said Bennett inspired him to never give up.
He related a story of how he tried to set up a meeting with Six Flags Over Georgia leaders to contract with them for parking services after Bennett encouraged him to do so.
Wahl said he told Bennett that Six Flags officials said no.
“Mr. Bennett said, ‘How did they say no? Was it a regular no or an abrasive no? Keep calling them back,’” Wahl said. “So every week for four months, I kept calling Six Flags … and then the fifth month, Six Flags called me.
“The fact is that he always put that in my head — that no doesn’t always mean no. I love the fact that he allowed me to challenge myself.”
Before the ceremony concluded, a resolution was presented by District 27 state Sen. Jack Murphy and District 23 state Rep. Mark Hamilton.
The resolution and a photo of Everett and Teresa Bennett will now hang in the Bennett Education Center.
“If you want to talk about legacy, that’s truly what this is, the rededication of a legacy that will continue to give for generations to come, not just in Forsyth County and Cumming, but all over this great state and all over the world,” Hamilton said.
Bennett’s son, David Bennett, thanked the attendees at the ceremony on behalf of the family.
“We hear the same stories over and over about someone who is truly a servant leader who puts everybody else ahead of themselves … if you look in the dictionary about what is said about the Southern gentleman, somebody that was humble and always thinking of others, dad’s picture would be there,” he said.
“Dad fought the good fight and he did finish the race as a great man.”