It is with extreme sadness that we announce the passing of Linda (Levine) Bennett. She passed peacefully in her home in Gainesville, Florida, on December 21, 2021 (the longest night of the year), after a long and courageous battle with ovarian cancer. She touched the lives of so many and will be missed by all that knew her.
Linda is survived by her husband, Phil Bennett; children, Jesse Bennett (spouse: Toni) and Jodi (Bennett) Hunt (spouse: Brian); grandchildren, Risa Bennett, Tali Bennett, Brit Bennett, Bennett Hunt, and Truman Hunt; siblings, Mel Levine, Al Levine, Sharon (Levine) Pierce, Larry Levine, Bonnie (Levine) Stutzman, and Shimon Levine, as well as many nieces, nephews, and cousins.
Linda was raised in Miami by her eldest brother, Mel, after both of her parents passed away before she was a teenager. She was the second youngest of seven siblings, some of whom were already adults by that time. Very shortly after graduating from Coral Park High School in Miami, she met her future husband, Phil, who was by her side for over fifty years, including her last day.
Linda was an amazing wife, mother, grandmother, entrepreneur, and a pillar of the community. She made an impact on countless families through her business, Sun Country Sports Center, which she co-started in 1987, with just a handful of young kids who wanted to learn gymnastics. “The Gym”, as we lovingly call it, meant so much to her, and will be passionately led by her daughter, Jodi, going forward.
Linda’s humble and challenging upbringing shaped her into a tough and fearless leader and business person. Anyone who worked with Linda instantly knew that she demanded the highest quality of work from everyone; and if you let her down, she was not shy about letting you know, in no-uncertain terms. However, she was fair, and everyone knew what to expect with her; she said it like it was. Since her passing, many current and former employees have reminded us that working for her had a profound impact on both their personal lives and professional careers. One story reminded us that Linda always put “the children first”. Additionally, former gymnasts (now adults) and parents have described how Linda mentored them and helped shape themselves into better people. She was a second mother to countless friends and family.
Linda celebrated her 70th birthday in October 2021! We had over 100 friends and family submit videos, message and photos to share with her on her Birthday. The tears were flowing as she watched it and she didn’t get around to thanking everyone individually for each message but she certainly intended on doing that. We also played the video for Linda on her final day and although she wasn’t able to tell us, she acknowledged that she could hear it by the smile on her face.
Linda was a fighter, but eventually succumbed to the struggles of Ovarian Cancer. In honor of Linda we will be focusing some fundraising efforts at Sun Country towards Ovarian Cancer awareness and research. If you would like to help in our efforts, please consider donating today. Thank you!
Local Research at University of Florida - This is where Linda received her final care. Please make sure to note “In Memory of Linda Bennett” so these funds will be earmarked specifically for Ovarian Cancer Research. Make a Donation.
Additional Ovarian Cancer Research and Awareness Organizations
Linda also served on more executive boards than we can name, she donated to countless charities, helped families in need through the Sun Country Tuition Assistance program, and gave thousands of dollars of free programming to local non-profits.
Please consider donating to one of Linda's charities that are near and dear to her heart.