Panama City Beach Business, Civic and Legal Leader Dies

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PANAMA CITY - One of Bay County's more prominent and respected residents passed away Sunday afternoon.

84 year old Ralph Julian Bennett, Jr, spent the last month and a half trying to recover from a car crash on September 6th.

The local lawyer, former state legislature, and business owner was taken to Bay Medical/Sacred Heart after he and another driver collided at the intersection of Middle Beach Road and Alf Coleman.

Close friends say since the accident, he'd been struggling with paralysis and had a difficult time talking.

Julian Bennett and his family have been long-time Panama City Beach residents. He passed away Sunday afternoon at 4:30.

"I'd say he was a man of passion, but I would also say he's a man of compassion and i think that's what people remember him for. He wanted to help others. He could see the good in others and he was encouraging. He gave of himself," said Ted Haney, a friend of Julian Bennett.

The Bennett's owned several motels and condos projects over the years, as well as Sharkey's Beach Club and restaurant, and the Seahaven development.

In January, the Bay County Chamber of Commerce presented Bennett with its most prestigious honor, the Lauren Merriam award for outstanding service to the business community over an entire lifetime.

Funeral arrangements for Julian Bennett are not yet complete.

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