“He was truly a strong guy,” Floyd of Chicago said. “He had been exposed to Agent Orange but did not show any signs of lung cancer until November 2018. That’s nearly 50 years after Viet Nam.”
Floyd said Bennie’s father served in World War I and that he’s traced Webbs all the way back to the Revolutionary War, and that Bennie himself served in the military. But Bennie, who grew up in the Mississippi delta area, was also born into a family of carpenters.
Bennie’s father was a carpenter and Bennie’s grandfather, who raced cars and played the coronet, was a carpenter. Bennie’s grandfather provided land for black schools in Mississippi and then he and his sons built the schools, Floyd said.
In fact Bennie’s grandfather encouraged his children to work as contract workers. On one plantation, they built sharecropper homes. By age 11, Bennie was helping to level houses.
“He would be under the house, which is pretty dangerous, and he had to jack the house up,” Floyd said.