August 9th 2016

Helen Delich Bentley, a journalist, politician and maritime industry advocate, died Aug. 6 at her home in Timonium, Md. She was 92.

In 2006, then-Maryland Gov. Bob Ehrlich renamed the Port of Baltimore for her as a gesture of appreciation for her efforts to boost the port and the city.

Her start in the maritime industry came in 1945, when she became the maritime editor of The Baltimore Sun.

She later hosted a television series about the port of Baltimore, “The Port That Built a City and State.”

The series, which ran from 1950 to 1965, was a behind-the-scenes view of the industries and workers that made Baltimore one of the leading ports in the nation.

She then moved into politics, representing the state of Maryland as a Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1985 to 1995. She served as a member of the Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee during all five terms and was consistently a strong advocate for U.S. manufacturing.

She ran for governor in 1994 but lost in the Republican primary. She was later named chair of the Federal Maritime Commission.

Sharp-tongued, witty and eccentric, she remained extremely active in her later years and was a frequent presence at maritime industry events, including several MM&P conventions.

Bentley advocated for the preservation of the World War II-era Liberty Ship SS JOHN W. BROWN, and worked to bring the vessel to Baltimore.

In 2002, at the age of 78, she attempted a political comeback, seeking election to her old House seat, but was defeated by Democrat Dutch Ruppersberger.

She received many honors over the years, including induction in 2004 into the International Maritime Hall of Fame in New York.

“She fought for jobs and she fought for the little people and she always put people and their opportunity to earn a living over petty partisan politics,” said Sen. Barbara Mikulski.

“Helen was a fighter and she believed in constituent service and she took on bureaucracy and foreign governments to get jobs in our community.”

(Photo credit: AAPA)