Norman L. Benn, retired coach at Florida Southern College, passed away on Apr 7, 2022, at the age of 88.
He is survived by his wife of 42 yrs, Kathy, daughters Susan Benn & Cheryl (Mike) Cress, grandchildren Aimee, Ashley, and Josh (Kaitie) Dero, 2 great grandchildren, 4 nieces and 1 nephew. Preceding Norm in death were his two sisters Patricia Dennis and Leone Needleman.
Born in Philadelphia, PA Norm attended Central HS for boys and Drexel University where he played varsity baseball and basketball. Upon graduation Norm joined the US Army, rising to the rank of 1st Lt. before returning to Drexel to start his career in sports, first in Sports Information and then as basketball coach of an undefeated Freshman team.
He soon entered the field of Public Relations, eventually relocating to Lakeland Fl to join the Nissen Advertising firm. By 1984 he was a volunteer coach with the FSC women’s basketball program and was named head coach after the sudden passing of Coach Dick Goding. His 12 yr tenure included a .788 winning percentage, 6 regular season and 5 conference tournament championships and, in 1996, and trip to the NCAA elite 8 where the Lady Mocs finished 5th in the nation. He earned four conference Coach of the Year honors and was named Southern Regional Coach of the year once. Coach Benn also started and led the school’s NCAA compliance program.
In 1997 Norm retired from basketball and became an assistant coach with the FSC women’s golf program. During his 13 years with these Lady Mocs the team won 4 Division II National Championships and produced 9 All Americans. He is a member of the Florida Southern, Sunshine State Conference and Polk County Sports Hall(s) of Fame and was a fixture at both men’s and women’s FSC basketball games up until his death.
In retirement Norm became involved with Lakeland’s Volunteers in Medicine and worked tirelessly on his golf game. Known all around town as ‘Coach’ he preferred to be remembered for his hole-in-one on the old course at St. Andrews in Scotland.
There will be a Celebration of Life held at the Lone Palm Golf Club on Wednesday, April 20th at 12 p.m. Condolences may be sent to the family at Heath Funeral Chapel.
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