Cover photo for Peter Brian Bennett's Obituary
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1931 Peter 2022

Peter Brian Bennett

June 12, 1931 — August 9, 2022

Peter Brian Bennett, Ph.D., D.Sc., aged 91, passed away with his family by his side, in Chapel Hill on August 9, 2022. He was born on June 12th, 1931, in Portsmouth, England to the late Charles and Doris Bennett.


Dr. Bennett lived an amazing life and leaves behind an incredible legacy as an international scientist, businessman, mentor, devoted husband, loving father, and proud grandfather.


He was involved in hyperbaric medical research for almost 70 years. His career began in 1953 at the Royal Naval Physiological Laboratory in Alverstoke England where he directed a world record oxygen-helium dive to 1,500 feet.  After spending two years in Toronto where he initiated a new diving medicine program, Dr. Bennett moved his family to North Carolina and became the Director of the F.G. Hall Hyperbaric Center and a tenured Professor in the Department of Anesthesiology at Duke University Medical Center. His deep diving research culminated with the Atlantis III experiment in 1981 which involved taking three divers to a depth of 2,250 feet in a hyperbaric chamber, establishing a world record that was recognized by President Ronald Reagan. 


In 1980, Dr. Bennett founded the non-profit organization Divers Alert Network, Inc. (DAN). As President & CEO, he grew DAN into a worldwide safety and health organization with more than 200,000 members including affiliate offices in Japan, Australia, Europe, and South Africa. After retiring from DAN in 2003, Dr. Bennett became the Executive Director for the Underwater Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS) until 2014.


Dr. Bennett was a leading authority on the effects of high pressure on human physiology and published over 250 scientific papers and nine books. He was a consultant in the underwater science fiction movie “The Abyss” and advised NASA on the development of the Human Research Facility launched on Space Shuttle Discovery STS 102 in 2001. Dr. Bennett’s contributions were recognized across the world and include the Diving Equipment and Marketing Association (DEMA) “Reaching Out Award” for lifetime achievement, the Ernst & Young 2002 Entrepreneur of the Year in North/South Carolina, the Pavlov Medal as an elected Foreign Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and the First Prince Tomohito of Mikasa Prize (Japan).


Dr. Bennett was known by colleagues for his dedication to the recreational diving industry, his passion and fiery spirit, and his commitment to helping others. As a businessman, he cared deeply for his employees and colleagues and was a trusting mentor to dozens of professionals who are now leaders in their fields. His greatest joy was not his own accomplishments but in seeing others who worked for him succeed and build their careers.


Throughout all his professional success, Peter Bennett always remained a dedicated family man putting them above everything else. He is survived by his wife of 66 years Margaret Camelia Rose Warren Bennett, son Christopher Charles Bennett, daughter-in-law Julie Neale Bennett, grandson Brian Thomas Bennett, granddaughter Taylor Anne Bennett, twin brother John Bennett, niece Simone Bennett, nephew Julian Bennett and niece Julie Symons. He was preceded in death by his daughter Caroline Susan Bennett.


A memorial service will be held for the immediate family at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 82 Kimberly Drive, Durham, NC 27707 on August 20, 2022, at 11am. A Celebration of Life reception will follow at 12:30 pm in Parish Hall where the family welcomes friends and colleagues to join them in celebrating Peter Bennett’s very full and rewarding life.


In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Duke Cancer Institute Fund at http://dukecancerinstitute.org/duke-cancer-fund.


The Bennett family is under the care of Hall-Wynne Funeral Service. Online condolences: www.hallwynne.com – select obituaries.


 

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Service Schedule

Past Services

Memorial Service

Saturday, August 20, 2022

11:00am - 12:00 pm (Eastern time)

St. Stephens Episcopal Church

82 Kimberly Drive, Durham, NC 27707

Memorial Service for immediate family

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Visitation

Saturday, August 20, 2022

12:30 - 2:00 pm (Eastern time)

St. Stephens Episcopal Church

82 Kimberly Drive, Durham, NC 27707

Celebration of Life reception in the Parish Hall for family, friends and colleagues.

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

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