Bennett Kotok, of Eden Prairie, passed away from natural causes on Jan. 21, 2024, at just 19 years old.
He is survived by his loving family, including his parents Larry and Susan, brothers Jack and Simon, his adored dog George, and Maddie Sura, his girlfriend of several years.
Bennett is survived by a loving extended family, including grandmothers Jane Gillen and Retta Kotok, and amazing aunts and uncles that he adored, including Kathy and Corey Melville, Steve and Kristal Gillen, Dave and Tamra Gillen, Jay and Marie Lackmann, Lori and Tom Anderson, and Janice and Bob Krauth.
Loving cousins include Michael and McKenna Melville, Curran, Garrett (Kassidy), Gavin, Jordan (Joe) Gillen, Brooke and Nick Gillen, and Samantha, Amanda, and Joseph Lackmann.
Bennett is preceded in death by his grandfathers, Doug Gillen and Joe Kotok, who played an important role in Bennett’s life with lessons of hard work, determination, faith and the importance of education. Both loved the outdoors, and it was Bennett’s favorite place to be, largely due to their influence.
Friendships were vitally important to Bennett, and lifelong friends Mark Rogalski and Sam Fulton were like family to him amongst many others, too numerous to count.
Bennett lived an accomplished life, though cut too short. Bennett loved all competition and thrived playing sports of all kinds, including intramural basketball, football, and baseball, where he served as the team captain. He was also the class president of the Class of 2023. He was a natural leader and thrived academically. He was student council president, model U.N. captain, peer ministry leader and many other activities at Saint Thomas Academy, his beloved high school. He loved being a cadet and being part of the brotherhood and legacy of the school.
Bennett was a pre-med major at Creighton University, and though extremely challenging, he excelled in his first year. He wanted to pursue medicine to help people live better lives, and that’s exactly who Bennett was. Bennett had a friend everywhere he went due to his engaging, genuine manner. Bennett had a kindness about him, and he sought the good in everyone.
Bennett had high personal standards, and he drove himself and others around him to continue to grow, evolve, and challenge themselves to always be better. He was an inspiration to those who were close to him, especially his family.
Our Lady of Grace is where Bennett’s faith journey began as a lifelong parishioner, and that carried over to STA, where he was part of campus ministry there under the guidance of Father Mark Pavlak, who was an important person in Bennett’s life. Faith was an integral part of his life and the foundation for his strong moral compass, which was unwavering. He helped everyone around him to become a better version of themselves. Bennett brought joy to any room simply by just being in it, sharing his positive energy with those around him, especially his family and close friends whose hearts are broken today.
In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations be made in his name to Saint Thomas Academy to provide financial assistance to more families who desire a Catholic education.
A prayer vigil will be held at Saint Thomas Academy, 949 Mendota Heights Road, Mendota Heights, on Friday, Jan. 26, at 7 p.m. No flowers at the vigil, please.
Mass of Christian Burial will be held at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church, 5071 Eden Ave., Edina, on Saturday, Jan. 27, at 11:30 a.m., with visitation starting at 10 a.m.
When you see a beautiful sunset or sunrise, think of the goodness Bennett brought to this world and share it with others, just as he did with us, even if it was for too short of time.
We offer several ways for our readers to provide feedback. Your comments are welcome on our social media posts (Facebook, X, Instagram, Threads, and LinkedIn). We also encourage Letters to the Editor; submission guidelines can be found on our Contact Us page. If you believe this story has an error or you would like to get in touch with the author, please connect with us.