Gary has deep roots in our community. His grandparents arrived in Kelowna in 1910 from Scotland with their first child, a newborn male, Gary’s father. Gary was born in Kelowna and spent his formative years here. Regrettably, his father passed way when Gary was 11. As a youth, he was involved in Scouts and was awarded the Queens Scout Award by the British Columbia Lieutenant-Governor in 1957.
That interest in Scouts continues today with his support of Scouts Canada through The Young Citizens Foundation and now through The Young Citizens Foundation Transferable Fund at The Vancouver Foundation.
As a mid- teen, his family moved to the lower mainland where he finished high school and went on to the University of British Columbia where he completed two degrees.
After completing a B.A. in Economics, Gary took a position as a sales executive with MacMillan Bloedel Ltd., an international forest products firm, in 1965. A desire for a career change led to him to return to university to achieve a Professional Teaching Certificate 1970. He took on teaching positions in the Vancouver and Delta School Districts, where his teaching concentrations was with senior students teaching Law, Economics, Canadian History and Geography. He also served as a department head for many years and completed his Master of Arts Degree at the University of British Columbia in 1975. His extracurricular interests included coaching tennis and sponsoring numerous grad committees.
Gary’s wife, Maureen, was born in Vancouver but most summers, her family enjoyed their holidays in Kelowna. After Gary and Maureen married in 1973, they spent a considerable amount of time in Kelowna during the summers in Kelowna and in the winters at Big White. After they retired, they took up residence in Kelowna in 1999. Maureen is an active and regular volunteer at the Kelowna General Hospital,
Prior to retirement:
- Gary became a project contributor for the Canadian Studies Foundation.
- He founded G. M. Homes Ltd. – a property management and development company.
- He became the volunteer Treasurer St. David’s Abbeyfield Society which built and currently operates two seniors’ home in the South Delta area of B.C.
- He became involved with the national non-profit youth citizenship initiative, The Encounters With Canada Program. In 1990, he was asked to become a program monitor, and in 1991, he became the EWC Regional Coordinator for the B.C. Lower Mainland. Two years later, he became the EWC B.C. President, a position that he held for 20 years. He was asked to become a Governor of The Canadian Unity Council, the owner of the program. He later joined the CUC Board of Directors where he served as the National Chair of the Canadian Unity Council’s Youth Committee which involved the EWC program and the other youth programs operated by the CUC at that time. In 2006, after the Federal Government announced the funding cancellation for the Canadian Unity Council, he initiated a national email letter campaign and with the support of EWC staff, many EWC volunteers and other Canadians that saved the program. He played an active role in finding EWC a new ‘home’ with the Historica Foundation and became a member of the Historica Dominion Institute’s Advisory Board. He was a co-founder and Founding President of The Encounters With Canada Support Foundation, now The Young Citizens Foundation, (youngcitizensfoundation.ca ) and coordinated the efforts to set up the Foundation. In late 2008 and early 2009, he convinced his fellow CUC Governors to have the CUC leave the majority of its ‘wind-up’ funds to the Foundation endowment to enable it to support students
Gary retired from teaching in 1997, and shortly afterward completed his Chartered Financial Planning Diploma at The Canadian Institute of Financial Planners, and founded Bennett Financial Services Corp., a financial and business consulting firm. He is a retired Chartered and Certified Financial Planner
He and his family moved to Kelowna in 1999.
In 2001, Gary joined the Rotary Club of Kelowna, where he served on the board for a number of years before becoming President in 2006 – 2007. That year the club was awarded the Central Okanagan Foundation’s Volunteer Organization of the Year Award. As President, he was instrumental in founding The Rotary Club of Kelowna Foundation where he was the Founding President and served on the board from 2007 – 2014. He is now a Past President. He and his wife Maureen represented the Rotary Club of Kelowna at the 2006 Rotary International Convention in Copenhagen. His involvement with Rotary continues today.
A few years ago, he was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for his voluntary work.
Current positions held:
- A member of the Rotary Club of Kelowna Sunrise.
- A Vancouver Foundation Fund Advisor.
- A Central Okanagan Foundation Fund Advisor. Several years ago, he established the Gary Bennett Family Fund within the Central Okanagan Foundation to support several youth related initiatives in our community.
- An active member of the Central Okanagan Community Food Bank Society.
- A member of the UBC Okanagan’s Development and Alumni Engagement Committee
- A member of the Kelowna Golf and Country Club.
Gary and his wife of forty-seven years have one daughter Candace and currently reside in Kelowna, B. C.