Former Maryland Congresswoman Helen Bentley, a former journalist, a strong voice for Baltimore’s port and a Nixon appointee to the Federal Maritime Commission, died Saturday.
The 92-year-old Bentley served in Congress for a decade after winning a slim victory in 1984 — the same year that Ronald Regan was elected to his second-term as president in a landslide. A Republican, she represented Maryland’s 2nd Congressional District.
Bentley was described as “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” by Republican Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan in a Baltimore Sun article Saturday.
During her political career, she supported buying U.S. products — as well as unions.
Starting in 1945, she worked as a maritime reporter and maritime editor for The Baltimore Sun. In 1969, was chosen to head the Federal Maritime Commission, where she served through 1975. She was the the highest-ranking woman in the Nixon Administration when she was appointed, according to a biography on the website of her lobbying firm.
In 2006, Maryland’s governor at the time, Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., announced that Baltimore’s port had been renamed the Helen Delich Bentley Port of Baltimore in honor of her work on its behalf.
She was born in Nevada to Serbian immigrants. During the war in Bosnia in the early- to mid-1990s, she defended the Serbian people, if not always their leaders.
“All sides — Muslims, Croats, Serbs — are guilty in fomenting the ongoing violence,” she told The Baltimore Sun in 1992.