Wallace F. Bennett

David C. Gessel
Utah History Encyclopedia, 1994

Wallace F. Bennett represented Utah in the United States Senate for twenty-four years, from 1951 to 1975. He was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, on 13 November 1898 to John F. and Rose Wallace Bennett. He attended local public schools and the University of Utah. In 1918, during World War I, he served as a second lieutenant in the infantry. He graduated from the University of Utah in 1919. He was married to the former Frances Grant and they are the parents of five children. Bennett was active in the Mormon Church and served in a number of positions including treasurer of the General Sunday School Board. Bennett wrote two books: Faith and Freedom (1950) and Why I am a Mormon (1958).

In 1919 and 1920 Bennett was employed as the principal of the LDS San Luis Stake Academy in Mannassa, Colorado. In 1920 he returned to Salt Lake City where he was employed as an office clerk in the family-owned business, Bennett’s Paint and Glass Company. He became president of the company in 1938 and stayed in that capacity until his election to the United States Senate in 1950. He was also president of the Bennett Motor Company from 1939 to 1950 and chairman of the Bennett Leasing Company. He served in leadership positions for several national trade associations and in 1949 he was elected president of the National Association of Manufacturers, becoming the first representative from small business to be so honored.

After a thirty-year career in business, Bennett was elected to the United States Senate as a Republican in 1950 and was reelected in 1956, 1962, and 1968. He voluntarily retired from the Senate in 1975, having never been defeated in a political election. After his retirement from the Senate, Bennett resumed active participation in his business activities and served as an unofficial Republican elder statesman in Utah.

Bennett’s political positions were generally conservative and pro-business, and he was known as a staunch advocate of a strong national defense. He served as ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee and was considered a financial expert. He was a spokesman on finance in the Senate for both the Eisenhower and Nixon administrations, and was a key player in bringing a number of major projects, including the Central Utah Project, to Utah . He also played a major role in helping to establish the defense and aerospace industries in Utah. He died 19 December 1993.