The Passing Of A Boardwalk and Seaside Heights Icon
My parents instilled in me a respect for my elders so growing up I always addressed them as Mr. or Mrs. Even as I got older it was something that stayed with me and a habit that I had trouble breaking. Many of these people would insist I call them by their first name and in many cases I finally made the switch as the years went by. However there were those who I simply could not refer to in any way but Mr. or Mrs.…it was a combination of respect and maybe a little bit of awe. Robert J. Bennett, Jr. was one of them and for the more than 50 years I knew him he was always Mr. Bennett.
Known for many years as “The King of Casino Pier” Mr. Bennett died Tuesday at the age of 90 and left a legacy that simply can’t be matched. He owned and operated many amusements games on and around the Casino Pier in Seaside Heights and eventually became a co-owner of the pier itself along with the Wynne & Fitzgerald families. That included what is now Breakwater Beach and in the mid 1980’s he became the sole owner of those properties. Add to that the Coin Castle Arcade, Bamboo Bar and more and you can see why he was a towering figure in the town.
For many years my father operated games on the Casino Pier so Mr. Bennett was his landlord and also his friend. While he knew how to separate the two he was always fair and even when my father left the business they remained good friends until my Dad passed away.
Later I got to deal with him when it came to advertising the water park on our radio station and to say he was intimidating would be an understatement. He knew exactly what he wanted and wasn’t interested in anything else. We actually had some great conversations during those meetings and laughed quite a bit…it might have been the only time I felt truly comfortable in his presence.
Bob Bennett was a giant in the industry and respected by all. Seaside Heights will never see a figure like him again.
Funeral services are Sunday at the Timothy E. Ryan Home for Funerals on St. Catherine Boulevard in Toms River from 1-5pm.