Bennett, Wallace F. (Wallace Foster), 1898-1993

Alternative names
Birth 1898-11-13
Death 1993-12-19

Biographical notes:

Wallace F. Bennett (1898-1993) was a U.S. Senator from Utah.

From the description of Oral history interview with Wallace F. Bennett, 1976 October 25. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 365146323

United States Senator from Utah and member of the Republican party. Member of the Mormon Church, author, and businessman.

From the description of Wallace F. Bennett papers, 1950-1974. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 367397097

Wallace F. Bennett (1898-1993) was a Mormon businessman and politician from Utah. He served as a U.S. Senator between 1950 and 1974.

From the description of Wallace F. Bennett photographs and slides, circa 1910-1990. (Brigham Young University). WorldCat record id: 212743301

Utah Businessman, president of the National Association of Manufacturers (1949-50), U.S. Senator from Utah (1950-1974).

From the description of Papers, 1950-1983. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122700132

Bennett was a United States Senator from Utah and a prominent Utah Businessman.

From the description of Wallace F. Bennett letters, 1962. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 365128352

From the guide to the Wallace F. Bennett letters, 1962, (L. Tom Perry Special Collections)

Wallace Foster Bennett was born in Salt Lake City on November 13, 1898 and was a Mormon politician from 1950 to 1974. He passed away in 1993 in Utah.

Son of John Foster and Rosetta Wallace Bennett, was a school principal and businessman involved in various business ventures. During his business and public career, Senator Bennett delivered hundreds of speeches and continued to be a much-sought-after speaker in retirement. He is the author of two books, Faith and Freedom (1950) and Why I Am A Mormon (1958), and numerous articles.

On September 6, 1922, Wallace Bennett married Frances Marion Grant, the eighth daughter of Heber J. Grant, the seventh president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Bennett's have five children, three sons and two daughters, twenty-seven grandchildren and one great grandchild. Mrs. Bennett is also an author, having written Glimpses of a Mormon Family (1968).

Wallace went to public schools in Salt Lake City and later attended the University of Utah. After interrupting his schooling for service in World War I as a second lieutenant of infantry, he graduated with an A.B. degree in 1919.

Bennett served as principal of the San Luis Stake Academy, Manassa, Colorado (a Mormon school) for one year (1919-1920). He entered his father's firm, Bennett Glass and Paint Company, as an office clerk in 1920. Successively, he became production manager, sales manager, general manager, and from 1938 to 1950, president. In 1939, with three partners, he found the Bennett Motor Company, a Salt Lake City Ford dealership and served as its president until 1950. Since 1950, he has served as chairman of the board of directors of both Bennett Glass and Paint and the Bennett Motor Company. In addition, he has served as director on the boards of a number of other western banks and corporations.

Bennett's ability and popularity as a business man became widely recognized. After serving as vice president of the National Paint, Varnish and Lacquer Association and president of the National Glass Distributors Association in the 1930s, he was elected president of the national Association of Manufacturers in 1949. He was the first representative of small business to serve as president of the NAM.

When politics attracted his interest, he ran in 1950 as a Republican candidate against Democratic Senator Elbert D. Thomas, who for eighteen years had been one of the key figures in the New Deal. Thomas was considered virtually unbeatable, but Bennett won that election and has been reelected three times, in 1956, 1962, and again in 1968. Upon completion of his fourth term in 1974, he became the first popularly elected senator in Utah's history to retire voluntarily.

During his 24 years in the Senate, Wallace F. Bennett became recognized as one of the nation's leading fiscal and monetary experts. His Senate colleagues of both parties and widely varying political philosophies had high praise and esteem for his expertise and contribution when he retired in 1974. His record of Senate service is long and varied. As the ranking Republican on the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee (from 1969 to 1973) and the Senate Finance Committee (from 1971 to 1973), he was in a unique position to deal with national monetary and fiscal problems. He enjoyed remarkable success in recommending and achieving solutions to problems affecting our coinage system, the soundness of the dollar and preserving a sound and dynamic banking system.

His expertise was not limited to his major committee assignments, however. They ranged from membership on the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy to a leading role in the enactment of the Truth-in-Lending Law; from the Vice-Chairmanship of the Senate Ethics Committee to major housing legislator; from the Committee on the Chaplain and an occasional assignment to open the Senate with prayer to sponsorship of major fund legislation to achieving much needed water and power projects for his arid state of Utah; from a major role in the Tax Reform Act of 1969 to a leading and successful advocate of improved air service for Utah and the Intermountain West; and, he was the only man in Congress who successfully modified the 1968 Gun Control Act when he supported a bill removing the cumbersome record keeping provisions on rifle and shotgun ammunition.

As one of the Senate's outstanding conservatives, Bennett generally opposed the multitude of antipoverty programs introduced during the Johnson Administration. He felt that the programs were not properly structured to do the job of eliminating poverty. They were too elaborate, poorly managed and caused a wasteful drain of revenue at the taxpayer's expense. He emphasized that the skill, the training, and the ability of its people was America's greatest resource. With this in mind, Senator Bennett supported legislation for certain forms of federal aid to higher education and vocational training and strongly opposed the repeal of Section 14 (b) of the National Labor Relations Act. He favored the basic rights of the American working man to accept or reject the services of the organized labor unions on their merits.

The conservation and proper usage of our natural resources has always been a deep concern of Senator Bennett's. He played a key role in approval of the Upper Colorado River Act and has stated the primary disappointment of his legislative career is that the project [was]. . . still uncompleted in 1974. In addition, he was instrumental in passage of the Small Reclamation Projects Act, the Watershed Act of 1954, the Dixie Reclamation Project and was especially instrumental in obtaining proper funding for many Utah water projects -- all of which have benefited arid areas throughout the nation. Under the Eisenhower Administration, he played an important role in developing the Mission 66 Program which has resulted in dramatic improvements in all national parks and monuments. It was Senator Bennett who first called attention to the scenic possibilities of the Canyon lands areas and he was a leader in the battle to make it a National Park.

As a member of the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy and the Joint Committee on Defense Production, he authored the Industrial Dispersal Amendment, enacted in 1956, which played an important part in bringing the missile industry to Utah. Later, his depletion allowance amendments for Beryllium and for minerals in the Great Salt Lake led to the establishment of new, major industries in Utah. He supported President Nixon's Southeast Asia policy and United States military involvement in Vietnam, believing that "Communist success in South Vietnam would go far in convincing other Communist elements throughout the world that new 'Wars of Liberation' can succeed."

[The source for most of the above biography is Douth, George, Leaders in Profile: The United States Senate. (New York, N.Y.: Speer and Douth, Inc. 1972) pp. 399-404.] The Collection: Literary Rights and Restrictions

From the guide to the Wallace F. Bennett papers, 1948-1974, (L. Tom Perry Special Collections)

It was on November 13, 1898 that John Foster and Rosetta Elizabeth Wallace Bennett became parents of their first child, Wallace Foster Bennett. Wallace attended the Salt Lake public schools and the L.D.S. High School. He later attended the University of Utah. In 1918 he enlisted in the army and upon completion of his training, was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant. He did not see active duty as the war ended at about the time of his commission. He returned to Salt Lake and in 1919 completed his AB degree in English at the University of Utah.

Upon graduation he became the principal of the San Luis Stake Academy in Manassa Colorado which was operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He returned to Salt Lake in 1920 and began his career at Bennett's Glass and Paint, the family business.

In 1922 he married Frances Grant the youngest daughter of Mormon Church president Heber J. Grant. They became the parents of five children, Wallace Grant, David Wells, Robert Foster, Rosemary [Fletcher] and Frances [Jeppson].

In 1917 a formal trust document had been signed by John F. Bennett, W. J. Bennett, a brother, and Joseph C. Sharp, an associate, creating the Bennett Association with a lifetime of fifty years. W. J. Bennett became trustee of the Bennett Association in 1928. In 1938 Richard Bennett became the third trustee on the death of his father. This association was a holding company for the Bennett family assets. In 1928 his father's health began to deteriorate and he assumed more responsibility for the Bennett's business interests becoming secretary-Tresurer of Bennett's Glass and Paint. Upon his fathers death in 1938 he became president of Bennett's.

In 1939 he, along with his two brothers, Harold and Richard, and Homer C. "Pug" Warner, received a franchise from Ford Motor Co. to and establish a car dealership, Bennett Motor Co. In the meantime he continued to be active in his church following in his father's footstep and becoming treasurer of the General Board of the Deseret Sunday School Union. He was active in civic affairs. In 1940 he was elected president of the Salt Lake Rotary Club and in 1944 he was selected as the President of the Salt Lake Community Chest.

Over the years he had assumed leadership positions in business organizations. In 1935 he served as Vice President of the National Paint, Varnish and Lacquer Association and in 1937 he became president of the National Glass Distributor's Association. In 1945 he was elected to the Board of Directors of the National Association of Manufacturers and elected President of this organization in 1949) the first time someone from a small business background had been chosen.

It was not surprising perhaps that in 1950 some of the leaders in Utah's Republican Party, in searching for the right candidate to unseat long time Democratic Senator Elbert Thomas, looked favorably upon Wallace Bennett's business, civic and church credentials and nominated him as the Republican candidate. He was successful in unseating Senator Thomas and went on to represent the people of Utah for the next twenty-four years.

This election to the senate caused a change in his business responsibilities and these were assumed for the most part by his brother, Richard. The Senator was listed as Chairman of the Board of both Bennett's Glass and Paint and Bennett Motor Co. He continued to act as a Trustee of the Bennett Association, the family holding company.

In 1962 he had a hard fought campaign against Congressman David King. He won and gradually as he had more seniority he had more responsibilities.

His assignments in the senate included the committees in Finance, Banking and Currency, joint committees on Atomic Energy and Defense Production and he was vice-chairman of the Ethic's Committee. Had the Republican won a majority in the Senate he would have become chairman of either the Finance or Banking and Currency Committee.

His special interest in the senate included the upper Colorado Storage Project, establishing a review process for Medicine and Miecaid payments, and securing federal insurance for share holders of the nation's credit union's. When he left the senate he was characterized by Frank Hewlett who headed the Salt Lake Tribune's Washington bureau as "one of the Senate's foremost financial experts."

Wallace F. Bennett died 19 December 1993.

From the guide to the Wallace F. Bennett papers, 1950-1974, (J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah)


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