SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Hundreds of mourners gathered Saturday to remember Bob Bennett as a loving husband and father who did not let his career as a senator define him.
The former Republican senator died earlier this month at his home in Arlington, Virginia, from complications of pancreatic cancer and a recent stroke. He was 82.
Bennett was heralded during a funeral at a Mormon church in Salt Lake City as someone who was always kind, honest, patient and modest.
"That's no exaggeration, that's really the man," said attorney and business partner John Knapp Baird. "He was the genuine article. And I don't think we fully appreciate what we had."
His son and daughter, Robert Bennett and Wendy Bennett Prawitt, also spoke of a father who had no athletic ability but once got caught trying to master the hula hoop. But no matter what he was doing at work, he made time to take his children's phone calls.
"Because of him, my capacity to love has increased immensely," Prawitt said.
Gov. Gary Herbert, former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, Sen. Orrin Hatch and former Sen. Jake Garn were among the current and former public officials in attendance, according to the Salt Lake Tribune (http://bit.ly/1sctgWh ).
The service was followed by a burial at the Salt Lake City Cemetery. A viewing and funeral service were also held in Virginia, where a bipartisan group of Washington power players remembered the former senator as someone who could get things done and work across the aisle.
The Republican served 18 years in the Senate before losing a re-election bid in 2010, becoming one of the first of a number of Republican incumbents booted out by a rise in tea party-fueled anger. Bennett was criticized for supporting a bailout for distressed banks and working with Democrats on his own health care bill that would require Americans to buy insurance.
He was first elected in 1992 and was seen as politically moderate, a stance that sometimes put him in conflict with members of his own party in the conservative state.
Bennett stayed on top of developing technologies and helped lead government Y2K preparations ahead of the new millennium amid fears that the transition from 1999 to 2000 would cause major computer glitches. There were no significant problems, but officials say the preparations ensured no disastrous shutdown of computer systems, including those at the Department of Defense.
Bennett's interest in technology began in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when he served as chairman of American Computers Corp. and president of Microsonics Corp.
After leaving the Senate, Bennett ran a consulting business, worked as a Washington lobbyist and was a resident scholar at the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics. Bennett also became a vocal critic of the GOP's conservative flank, saying it was driving the party away from mainstream Americans.
As the son of four-term U.S. Senator Wallace Bennett, Bob Bennett caught the political bug early in life and won his first elected office as student body president at the University of Utah.
He was the grandson of Heber J. Grant, a president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Bennett is survived by his wife, Joyce, six children and 20 grandchildren.