Father Judge High School alumni Jack Bense (Class of 1963) is one of its most illustrious alumni, earning both the Purple Heart and Silver Star for his service in Vietnam.
On April 17, 1967, Father Judge graduate Michael Davis was tragically lost in action. He was one of 27 Father Judge graduates to perish during the Vietnam war.
Early Life and Education
Bense was born in 1945 to dairy farm parents from Morristown, New Jersey. As she moved to Panama City during the 1960s and attended Florida State University, she developed an invaluable skill that would serve her throughout her career as a renowned archaeologist and then president of Florida State University.
She rose to become a prominent archaeologist in Pensacola and made several groundbreaking discoveries about our city’s past, such as excavating an ancient Indian village on Bayfront Parkway and discovering remnants of Hawkshaw – Pensacola’s first African-American neighborhood.
Her relationship with faculty members at UWF had become fractured during her tenure there, impeding her ability to steer the institution through difficult economic times. But she worked to repair these relationships through individual meetings and apologized for ignoring their worries.
John Bense holds two degrees from Florida State University and is currently the president and partner of GAC Contractors in Panama City, as well as serving on the board of trustees at FSU.
He has three children: Jonathan, who runs Bense Vision and is a Doctor of Optometry; Allison who works as both a Cordon Bleu Chef and certified Pilates Instructor; and Christine who holds a Master’s Degree in Chemical Engineering.
Dr. Bense is an esteemed ophthalmologist with more than two decades of expertise and 20,000 surgeries under his belt. Additionally, he serves as retina consultant at St. John’s Health Sciences Complex and belongs to the Canadian Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery; additionally, he holds a license in both medicine and ophthalmology practiced within Canada.
Achievements and Honors
John Bense has made a lasting impact on the University of West Florida during his time as president. Currently, he is in the process of retiring from that post after four years in office.
He has been an enthusiastic supporter of FSU Panama City and the Seminole Boosters. Additionally, he secured millions of dollars in funding for the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory.
Bense has been an archaeologist for over four decades, specializing in the history of Spanish Presidios and their impact on Florida’s early Spanish occupation. Her research has been published in several professional books as well as two archaeology textbooks for lay readers; her latest publication “On the Edge of the Spanish Empire: The West Florida Presidio Era 1698-1763” will be released by Oxford University Press in 2021.
John Bense is an accomplished businessman who has achieved success in numerous areas. As the founder of multiple businesses and current board member for multiple boards, his drive for excellence has allowed him to achieve great heights in life.
His impressive list of accomplishments and admiration from many is testament to his success. His humility combined with an uncommon empathy and compassion for others has been the driving force behind his achievements.
Bense’s career took off in the 1970s when she secured large federal contracts to perform archaeological work at sites where governments wanted to construct roads and other infrastructure. But she soon discovered that she was joining an exclusive club – one dominated by some of architecture’s renowned figures of that era.
Bense has always been a tireless worker and accomplished goal setter. His respect for people shows through in his willingness to lend a helping hand in his community.
He began his career in road construction but has since expanded into other sectors of the industry. Nowadays, he serves as Chairman and CEO of Bense Enterprises – a firm involved in road building, mechanical contracting, insurance services and golf courses.
He holds numerous board and commission appointments, boasting a net worth of over $2.96 million as of 1 March 2022. As owner and trader of Capital City Bank stock, he owns over 10,000 units and trades 2,595 units every 105 days on average – giving him an overall holding of 85,356 units in CCBG that has grown over the course of over 10 years.