AUBURN — A moment of silence was held at Edward Little High School on Tuesday to pay tribute to former Assistant Principal Rob Bennett, who died early in the day after battling brain cancer.
Bennett, 60, retired last spring because of health issues. The 2011-12 yearbook was dedicated to him. He was sponsored by the EL community in the 2012 Dempsey Challenge, in which people walk and cycle to raise money for the Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer, Hope & Healing in Lewiston.
“Rob was first and foremost a gentle man,” Assistant Principal Steve Galway said Tuesday. “He was an EL alumnus. He taught graphics and automotives here. He was an assistant principal. He was loved and respected by students, staff and parents. He was just a wonderful, wonderful gentleman. We're deeply saddened by his passing.”
Bennett's son, Matthew Bennett, said his father died around 3 a.m. Tuesday. He would have turned 61 on Friday.
“He loved his students and Edward Little High School so much,” Matthew Bennett said. “He was so focused on education, how important education was in our lives. It's important for us to keep carrying on.”
Bennett graduated from Edward Little in 1970, the University of Southern Maine in 1974, and worked in a number of fields. In 1992 he served as a high school substitute teacher and loved it, Matthew Bennett said. He became a full-time classroom teacher in 1994 and assistant principal in 2001.
In addition to his teaching talents, Bennett was often called on to fix anything that was broken, to the point he was nicknamed “McGyver,” Galway said. “His skill level was unbelievable, with computers, security cameras. His technical skills were unsurpassed.”
Bennett learned about a year ago that he had a brain tumor and he underwent several surgeries and treatments, Galway said. “He had many good months along the way,” Galway said. “We thought he was on the way to a full recovery.”
Bennett leaves a wife, Diane, and three sons, Matthew, Kevin and Rob Bennett.