A one-time newspaper reporter, Helen Delich Bentley, was a strong advocate for the maritime industry, particularly the Port of Baltimore.
Helen Delich Bentley, a former chairwoman of the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) and Maryland congresswoman, died Saturday at the age of 92.
Bentley was a strong advocate for the maritime industry, particularly the Port of Baltimore, so much so that in conjunction with the 300th anniversary of the port’s creation, then-Maryland Gov. Robert L. Erlich, Jr. named the state’s public marine terminals the Helen Delich Bentley Port of Baltimore on June 1, 2006.
She served as chairman of the FMC from 1969 to 1975 and represented the Second District of Maryland as five-term Republican member of the House of Representatives between 1985 and 1995.
Richard A. Lidinsky, Jr., who stepped down as an FMC commissioner last month, and himself a former chairman of the agency, had worked as a young attorney at the FMC during Bentley’s chairmanship.
“From an international maritime perspective, she had the vision to create a regulatory structure within the powers of the commission that sparked the joining of railroads, trucking and vessels in our ports that resulted in the intermodal container revolution that is the foundation of current world trade,” said Lidinsky, Jr. “It was largely her determination and relentless efforts in this area — combined with her unique personality — that leaves a global legacy and void today.”
Larry Hogan, the current governor of Maryland, said Bentley “worked with tenacity, energy, and passion on behalf of her constituents, making her a rare breed in politics and a role model to public servants across Maryland. She was a trailblazer for women in government, a longtime champion for manufacturing, maritime issues, and the Port of Baltimore which proudly bears her name as an everlasting tribute to her achievements.”
Bentley was born in Ruth, Nev. on Nov. 28, 1923. She studied journalism at the University of Missouri and after stints at newspapers in Fort Wayne, Ind. and Lewiston, Idaho, moved to the Baltimore Sun where she covered the waterfront from 1945 until 1969. Starting in 1950, she also produced, directed, edited, wrote and conducted interviews for a television series called “The Port That Built a City,” and later, “The Port That Built a City – and State.”
Paul F. Richardson, a colleague for some 60 years and former
SeaLand Service president, said, “There never was and never will be
another like her. She knew our industry and covered it with integrity
and even humor.”
Bentley, who died of brain cancer, will be privately interred alongside her husband Bill, who died in 2003. They married 1959. Mr. Bentley was a high school teacher who opened an antique shop in 1967. Together they opened the Bill and Helen Bentley Antique Roadhouse in Cockeysville, Md.
A memorial will be held in Baltimore in October.