The Meadow Bridge High School community is reeling this week following the death of well-liked coach Joe Bennett.

Bennett, 53, passed away Friday, April 20 at Morgantown’s Ruby Memorial Hospital following a sudden illness. He had suffered from diabetes.

The school held a memorial service Monday, said Wildcat football coach Larry McClintic. And the hallways have been pretty somber, Bennett’s longtime colleague and friend added.

“The community is torn to pieces,” McClintic said Monday. “He never met a stranger.

“I told the student body he was a friend to everyone, and he absolutely was.”

This past fall, Bennett coached a very successful Meadow Bridge Middle School football team that included his son, Tyler, as a solid contributor. He aided the high school and junior high football, track and basketball programs in a variety of ways over the years, McClintic pointed out.

McClintic remembers Bennett the player, too. Bennett, who taught at MBHS for 30 years, was a standout gridder at Greenbrier East, where he was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame in 2004. He was recruited to play at WVU, then wound up transferring to Concord under coach Tony Colobro. He was a 4-year starter for the Mountain Lions.

“Joe was not the prototype linebacker, but he was a one-man wrecking crew,” said McClintic. “He would hit you, that’s for sure.”

In addition to his devotion to athletics, Bennett was also active as vice president of the Fayette County American Federation of Teachers.

Services were Tuesday at the Sewell Valley Baptist Church in Rainelle.

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