BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Former Maryland Congresswoman Helen Bentley has died at the age of 92, WJZ has learned.
Helen Bently was a woman ahead of her time, a true trailblazer.
Over 70 years ago she became the country’s first and only female maritime reporter when she was hired by the Baltimore Sun. She even created and produced her own show about the Port of Baltimore.
In 1969, Bentley became the Chairman of the Federal Maritime Commission after she was appointed by President Nixon. She was the first and only woman to hold that position.
Bentley was later elected to the House of Representatives in 1985, where she served for 10 years.
“She was a tough talking lady that’s why we got along so well,” said Senator Barbara Mikulski . “We were no nonsense, either in the way we talked with each other, or talked about. They even nicked named us the salt and pepper of the Maryland delegation.”
In 2006, then-governor Robert Erlich named the Port of Baltimore after her.
“She broke lots of glass ceilings and I was very very proud one night during my 10 years of governor to rename the Port of Baltimore in her honor,” said Erlich.
It was a big surprise and a very proud moment,” Bently told WJZ’s Denise Koch during an interview in July.
“We will remember Helen looking out over the Port of Baltimore,” said Mikulski. “She was the lady that launched a thousand ships.”
According to our media partner The Baltimore Sun, Mrs. Bentley had four brothers and two sisters, all of whom preceded her in death. She is survived by a niece, Sue Everson of Rancho Cordova, Calif.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan expressed his saddness in a statement saying:
“The First Lady and I are deeply saddened by the loss of Congresswoman Helen Delich Bentley, one of Maryland’s most dedicated and respected leaders. She was a friend and I had come to value her wise counsel over the years. During a recent visit with her, I was inspired to see that the same spirit and determination that defined both her public and personal life was still very much present right up to the end. Congresswoman 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 media and 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. Our deepest sympathies are with her family and friends as the First Lady and I, along with countless Marylanders, mourn the loss of a true leader for our great state. The legacy of Congresswoman Bentley will not soon be forgotten. We owe her a debt of gratitude for a lifetime of service on behalf of the state of Maryland. She will be missed.”
Funeral services will be private.
A memorial for Bentley will be held in the fall.