Neil F. Bennett, a former Westchester resident, lost his battle with cancer Wednesday, January 31st. He was 76 years old.

A celebration of his life is scheduled for 1 p.m. Monday, February 12th, at Bel Air Presbyterian Church, 16221 Mulholland Drive, Los Angeles. (818) 788-4200.

Born January 20th, 1931, Bennett had a passion for life and he loved to write, was a big fan of jazz, and enjoyed a loving relationship with his wife, Celine and his large family, according to family.

He embraced all these things with the excitement and wonder of a child; his outlook on life and all it had to offer was contagious; and California, his Canadian lake and Laos were three of his favorite places, each one a home which filled his life with joy, the family member said.

Bennett was a writer and humorist and documented his travels.

As a young man, Bennett became an air traffic controller at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York. He later brought his family to California and became chief at the Los Angeles International Airport tower in Westchester.

After he retired from his Federal Aviation Administration job, he headed the Air Transport Association (ATA) as regional director for 18 years before retiring in 2000.

Surviving are his wife Celine; brother Louis Bennett; sister Janice Smith; seven children; one stepdaughter; 14 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

The Argonaut newspaper was instrumental in Bennett meeting his wife Celine when Celine’s daughter, Isabel, put an ad in the classified section of the newspaper advertising her computer tutor services and Bennett hired her for his Air Transport Association office.

Shortly after Bennett hired Isabel, Celine moved to Southern California from Canada to live with her daughter, was introduced to Bennett, and “the rest, as they say, is history,” the family member says.

In memory of Bennett, the family has suggested that in lieu of flowers, contributions may be directed to the University of California Irvine Cancer Center or Dr. Jason Zell’s research program at Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center; Attn: Krista Hollinger; Division of Hematology/Oncology; 101 The City Drive; Bldg. 56, Rm. 249; Orange, CA 92868.