Tom Bennett, a retired journalist, advocate of speech and press freedoms, historian of daily newspapers in Atlanta, environmental columnist for The Cherokee Scout, and a disabled Army veteran, died of respiratory failure at Erlanger Western Carolina Hospital on Monday, December 28, 2020. He was 76.
A Celebration of Life will be held at Murphy’s Episcopal Church of the Messiah at a covid-safe date to be announced later.
A 23-year Atlanta Journal-Constitution News employee, Bennett also was a volunteer founding board secretary-treasurer of the Georgia First Amendment Foundation in 1994 to 2006. The foundation was incorporated by AJC and its lawyers to teach public officials about Georgia open meetings and open records laws.
In retirement Bennett’s freelance work in Cherokee County included the 2006-2019 “WATR Column” at the Hiwassee River Watershed Coalition’s web site; the 2008-2020 twice-monthly opinion column “The Far Blue Mountains” in the Cherokee Scout; and 2012-2019 “Speak Your Piece” articles in the “Daily Yonder, Keep it Rural” web site of the Center for Rural Strategies in Whitesburg, Ky.