Ralph Bennett joined the Auburn mathematics faculty in September, 1966. He soon became a leader in the department, being the first mathematician to hold an Alumni Professorship, and the first topologist here to establish a connection with the Polish school. He and Donna and Becky and Leah spent the Spring of 1972 in Warsaw, where Ralph began doing work on shape theory with Karol Borsuk.

Bennett introduced the systematic study of countable dense homogeneous spaces in a ground-breaking paper of that title which appeared in Fundamenta Mathematicae in 1972. Such mathematicians as Jan van Mill, Stephen Watson, Richard D. Anderson, Judy Kennedy, and Zhou Hao-xuan, and many others, have contributed to this study.

While at Auburn, Ralph directed the PhD theses of Jerry F. Williams, John T. Van Cleave, and Earl Perry.

Ralph's quiet, unassuming manner masked a steely determination that he should do well, and that Auburn mathematics should do well. It was a tragic loss when he died in December of 1972 at the age of thirty-two.

Before coming to Auburn, Ralph was a student at the Illinois Institute of Technology and at the University of Tennessee. It was at Illinois Tech that he came into contact with William S. Mahavier, who was to become his thesis advisor. When Mahavier and John Neuberger left IIT to go to Tennessee, a number of graduate students, including Bennett, decided to go with them. The faculty in place at Tennessee welcomed the talented new graduate students but some thought they ought to work with them, not with the professors who had brought them there. One senior professor tried to attract Bennett to work with him, going so far as to have other faculty speak to Bennett on his behalf. Bennett saw no reason to change, and on his thesis defense he was subjected to intense questioning from that professor. Other faculty reported to Mahavier, who was away because of a family emergency, how calmly, pleasantly, and completely Bennett handled all the questions.

While in Knoxville, Ralph met, courted, and won Donna Vaughan. They were married on June 4, 1961. During 1961 Ralph participated in the famous Georgia summer program in topology led by R H Bing and Deane Montgomery. In fact, after a brief visit to New Orleans in early June, Ralph and Donna had a summer-long honeymoon in Athens, Georgia.

The Bennetts' first daughter, Becky, was born in Knoxville.

Ralph Bennett's thesis was on rectangularly chainable continua. When he presented his results at an AMS meeting in Chicago in the Spring of 1963, Bing, who was in the room, commented favorably, saying that now we knew that the product of two pseudo-arcs could be embedded in 3-space. Some tension arose when M. McCord said he had a stronger result. Bennett commented pleasantly that he hoped McCord would show it to him. Upon being questioned by O. G. Harrold, McCord said he had learned of Bennett's work the previous evening and only after having seen what Ralph had done had he seen how to extend it. A collective sigh of relief was heard, while Ralph continued to erase the board.

After graduating from Tennessee, Bennett went to Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois. The Bennetts' second daughter, Leah, was born there. Bennett spent much of his time there reading and familiarising himself with the literature.

A final anecdote about Ralph's sensitivity: In a conversation he had with me the problem came up of determining whether manifolds are the only compact connected subsets of Euclidean spaces which are countable dense homogeneous. Some time after that, he approached me to ask whether any of my students were working on the problem. He would never compete with a student, but if no one else was working on it he found the problem intriguing and would like to think about it. On receiving appropriate assurance he did work on it. The rest, as they say, is history.