Dr. Samuel Bennett, longtime director of dining services at Texas Tech University until his retirement this past spring, passed away suddenly late last week. He was 59 and was found in his garage by a neighbor.

Bennett was noted for building a high-quality retail-oriented dining operation at the Lubbock campus. His program included a series of state-of-the-art hybrid c-stores under the Sam's Place brand that attracted thousands of voluntary participants to the meal program at the heavily commuter-oriented school.

Bennett won numerous awards from NACUFS for his operational excellence, including a Richard Lichtenfeld Award in 1995. he has also served as both Southwest Regional president and national president of the organization for the 2009-10 term.

The Texas Tech dining program was the subject of a feature cover story in Food Management in December 2011.