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Bennett and his wife, Becky, were some of the first people I met when I moved to Marathon. They were so nice to my young boys. Of course, we worked side by side at the festival for many years. He’s just a nice person. He’s one of the best people that I’ve ever met. —Eddie Cordova Sr., commercial fisherman

Bennett is one of the guys who is going to do what needs to be done, as he has done with the seafood festival since Day 1. And he’s a gentleman. — Gary Graves, Keys Fisheries

He is generous to a fault. Regularly, after every seafood festival, he is the guy running around town passing out “extra” festival T-shirts to those that “should have them.” His friends know they can call and he will deliver; long hours are no obstacle.

Bennett has always been a key player in our chapter of OFF, an ambassador really. And he has always been one of our most important people in the festival’s organization and operation. We shoud all follow Bennett’s lead. —Justin Bruland, commercial fisherman

Last week, at the age of 82, he climbed up into his attic to drag out his photo albums for me for the umpteenth time and assured me it was no problem. In 1992, Bennett Orr survived a horrific, vicious accident at sea — the kind that would have killed a trained solider of war. But he did. It’s his tale to tell, but the locals who know the story don’t respect the fact that he survived. We respect the fact that it didn’t stop him. And it didn’t debilitate him. It didn’t define him. In the words of the Scots, “It made him feckin’ stronger.” And it didn’t make him turn his back on Mother Ocean. Bennett Orr is possibly the best archetype of a commercial fisherman that we know. So, when you lug away your heavy, delicious, sinfully good seafood dinner at this year’s festival, take a moment to appreciate the men like Bennett who made it possible from the very beginning. And in the words of Bennett’s beautiful wife, Becky, on the recorded answering machine at their home in Marathon: “God bless ya’ real good!”

12 2017 Marathon Seafood Festival

Left: Bennett Orr, pictured here with one of every festival T-shirt, is the official, unofficial archivist of the Marathon Seafood Festival. Middle: Bennett shows U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen how to pose with the catch — extend your arm towards the camera to make it look larger! Right: Monroe County Commissioner George Neugent and Bennett shoot the breeze.

Marathon Seafood Festival  
Marathon Seafood Festival