Glenn Benton has always been self-sufficient. The 88-year-old veteran of World War II saw action in Europe for two years during his time in the Army.
"He's just a simple person," said Benton's daughter, Bonnie Lindsay, said of the Yarrow Road resident. "He doesn't really want for anything. He'd never take charity from a person ... That's that whole mentality of that era. They lived in the Depression."
But everybody benefits from a little assistance now and again, especially where high heating costs are concerned. But thanks to Economy Fuel, based in Westport, Benton and his wife, Sue, will weather this winter a little more warmly -- and more economically.
Benton on Thursday became the second annual recipient of the fuel company's "Heat for Heroes" award, a donation of $1,500 worth of home fuel oil prize to the selected veteran. A short essay by Lindsay that spoke about why her father was deserving of the designation was chosen from among some 100 others.
"He just turned 88 years young and is still working full time!" Lindsay wrote. "He has a difficult time paying his bills and lives a very simple life with my mother."
"I still can't believe it," Benton said of the award. "I think it's great, wonderful and the company's been very good to me," he said, adding that he has been a customer of Economy Fuel for eight years.
Mike Gill, managing director of the 35-year-old company, said the veterans program is a way for the business to give back to the community.
"We decided that this was to kind of be our thing," he said.
"Basically, we have individuals submit essays nominating a veteran," Gill said. "It's hard to pick a winner because they're all winners, but this year it's Sergeant Benton.
The company began accepting nominations in the program through its website on Veteran's Day, and a decision was made near Christmas Day.
"Last year I entered him and we didn't win," Lindsay said, "because my father spends at least $600 a month on oil in the winter ... I thought if he could win, he would at least have a little breathing room."
Ironically, Benton doesn't spend much time at home because he works five full days a week in Wilton at Bruce Bennett Nissan. In fact, while he was pleased to receive the gift, he didn't like having to miss a day of work for the presentation of the award.
"I've been in automobiles all my life," said Benton, whose family lived in a house at the corner of Post and South Pine Creek roads when he was born in 1924.
"It was '24," he joked, "1924, not 1824."
Benton shared a few reminiscences of his wartime service, including one rather humorous incident.
"I didn't get to shoot anybody, (but) I did damage one German soldier," he recalled. "I hit him with my truck ... I didn't kill him ... He just didn't see me coming and he jumped right out in front of me ... That's the closest I got to a German soldier."