Former UCHRA Director Phyllis Bennett Dies

Jun 11 2012

67 year old Phyllis Bennett, who ran the Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency for over 30 years, died Saturday at Cookeville Regional Medical Center.

She had gone on medical leave from the UCHRA last spring, but remained with the agency as a consultant.

She had been undergoing treatment for pancreatic cancer.

Phyllis began her career in 1973 with the Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency. In 1978, she was appointed Executive Director until 2011 when she was hired as a consultant to the agency. Phyllis served 4 years as President of the Tennessee Association of Human Resource Agencies as well as being selected Who's Who in American Business Women .

During her 34-year tenure as Executive Director, she not only established but practiced the agency's motto of "Delivering Hope" to the people of the area by providing access to services through each of the fourteen county offices she established. Her giving spirit showed daily when seeing or riding UCARTS or CATS (Cookeville's first mass transit system) traveling our streets and highways or providing home delivered meals and electrical assistance to the most needy in the region. Phyllis's accomplished goals show when visiting or seeing Tennessee Careers Centers or when visiting Lakeside Resort & Educational Complex which was to help displaced workers through educating for new careers or promoting existing ones in the hospitality industry. The needs of our young people were never far from her heart. The Upper Cumberland's need to house and council young people are realized through the Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency's Residential centers; Chance, Indian Mound and Cumberland Mountain School

Her visions for delivering this hope were made reality by her leading role in the expansion of Cover Kids, which provides insurance for uninsured children in low income homes, the Imagination Library; the Highland Initiative with the Putnam County Chamber of Commerce and N.C.D.S. Inc. and numerous other programs that assisted those in need. Although her passion was to provide for all in need, her heart was always for the people of the Upper Cumberland Region. She had an understanding of the needs for the rural area residents & fought to supply these needs.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Henry Clarence Redmon and Evelyn Redmon as well as her daughter, Tiffany Rodgers. She is survived by her husband of 28 years, Weyman (Wayne) H. Bennett; a son, Milburn S. Rodgers III (Patty) of Cookeville; a sister, Faye Fuqua of Smithville; a brother, Terry Redmon (Phyllis) of Lebanon; two grandsons- Matthew Rodgers, Murfreesboro; Nickolas Rodgers (Bethany) and one great grandchild, Aaron S. Rodgers, Cookeville; Barbi Rodgers Malfi of South Carolina; three step children - Gary Bennett of Minneapolis, MN, Nancy Manning (Colin) Hendersonville; & Christian Bennett (Lisa)of Hixson; four step grandchildren Courtney , Madison, Christian, & Hailey Bennett all of Hixson.

Visitation will begin Tuesday, June 12 at the Washington Avenue Baptist Church from 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.; Wednesday from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. Services will begin at 2:00 p.m. at the church. Burial will follow at DeKalb Memorial Gardens in Smithville. Donations to the Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency's Residential Programs or the American Cancer Society can be made in lieu of flowers. Hooper Huddleston and Horner Funeral Home in Cookeville is in charge of arrangements.

Phyllis Bennett

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