Biographies and Photos of Series Participants
Biography of Gordon Bennett


Biography of Gordon Bennett



Gordon Bennett, a major and formative player “In the Crucible of Change,” was born in the far northeast town of Scobey, MT in 1922. He attended school in Scobey through the eighth grade and graduated from Helena High School. After attending Carroll College for two years, he received his BA in economics from Carleton College in Northfield, MN. During a brief stint on the east coast, his daily reading of the New York Times (“best newspaper in the world at that time … and now”) inspired him to pursue a career in journalism. He received his MA in Journalism from the University of Missouri and entered the field. As a reporter for the Great Falls Tribune under the ownership and management of the Warden Family, he observed and competed with the rigid control of Montana’s press by the Anaconda Company (the Great Falls Tribune was the only large newspaper in Montana NOT owned by ACM). Following his intellectual curiosity and his philosophical bend, he attended a number of Farm-Labor Institutes which he credits with motivating him to pursue solutions to economic and social woes through the law. In 1956, at the age of 34, he received his Juris Doctorate degree from the Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, DC. Bennett’s varied career included eighteen years as a farmer, four years in the US Army during WWII (1942-46), two years as Assistant MT Attorney General (1957-59) with Forrest Anderson, three years in private practice in Glasgow (1959-61), two years as Associate Solicitor in the Department of Interior in Washington, DC (1961-62), and private law practice in Helena from 1962 to 1969. While in Helena he was an unsuccessful candidate for the Montana Supreme Court (1962) and cemented his previous relationships with Attorney General Forrest Anderson and US Senator Lee Metcalf. Bennett modestly refuses to accept the title of Campaign Manager for either Lee Metcalf (1966 re-election over the challenger, MT Republican Governor Tim Babcock) or Forrest Anderson (his 1968 election as Governor), saying that “they ran their campaigns … we were only there to help.” But he has been generally recognized as having filled that critical role in both of those critical elections. After Governor Anderson’s election in 1968, Bennett was appointed Director of the MT Unemployment Compensation Commission, a position from where he could be a close advisor and confidant of the new Governor. In 1971, Governor Anderson appointed him Judge in the most important jurisdiction in Montana, the 1st Judicial District in Helena, a position he held for seventeen years (1971-88). Upon stepping down from his judgeship, for twenty years (1988-2008) he was a law instructor, mediator and arbitrator. He currently resides in Helena with his wife, Norma Tirrell, former newspaper reporter and researcher/writer. Bennett has two adult children and four grandchildren.

Publication Date

Fall 2015

Biography of Gordon Bennett