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Gordon B. Benn, former St. Petersburg coach

Gordon B. Benn, a former coach and athletic director at St. Petersburg High School, died Sunday (Oct. 19, 1997) in Lakeland, where he lived in retirement. He was 86.

The cause was cancer, his brother, Donald, said Wednesday.

From 1936 to 1938, he led the Green Devils athletic department and coached football after three years as an assistant to Fred Stewart, for whom Stewart Field is named.

He left to become coach and a physical education teacher at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. He retired to Lakeland 21 years ago.

Born in Dallas, Mr. Benn came to St. Petersburg from Fort Myers in 1923 with his family. His father, the Rev. George Benn, was the founding pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church, 126 11th Ave. NE in St. Petersburg.

After graduating from SPHS, where he was an outstanding student-athlete, Mr. Benn received an undergraduate degree from the University of Iowa. He received a graduate degree in physical education from Springfield (Mass.) College and studied at Penn State University.

His wife, Elvera, died while he was coaching in New Hampshire. Survivors include a son, Donald B., Lakeland; a sister, Mary B. Johnson, Gladwyne, Pa.; and a brother, Donald G., St. Petersburg.

Heath Funeral Chapel, Lakeland, is in charge of arrangements.