Celebrating the life of Helen Delich Bentley

Humor dominates memorial for port's champion
Posted at 6:11 PM, Nov 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-04 18:11:30-04
A tug boat delivered her ashes at the port, which bears her name and Governor Larry Hogan offered highlights of Helen Delich Bentley's life, from maritime journalist to congressional power broker on its behalf, making herself as tough as the male-dominated industry she championed.

"Helen was tough as nails and she would never, ever back down from any fight,” said Hogan, “One time during a convention in Philadelphia when a longshoreman hurled an insult at her, Helen famously responded by throwing a punch at the guy."

A feisty spirit in her own right, Senator Barbara Mikulski recalled the time when she and Bentley took on a colonel with the Army Corps of Engineers.

"By the time Helen and I were ready to jump over the table, the colonel picked up the phone, called the general, the head of the Corps of Engineers in Washington and said, 'I've got Bentley and Mikulski in this room.  We've got to give them what the hell they want or you have to transfer me to a war zone.  I will be happy facing nuclear weapons than these two gals,’" said Mikulski.

Related: Former MD Rep. Helen Delich Bentley dies at 92

A longtime friend, David Blumberg, represented Bentley's family at the memorial, also recalling her no-nonsense style.

"For our first meeting in 1971 when I applied to be her intern at the Federal Maritime Commission, her first question on me was, 'What candy-assed private school did your parents pay for?" Blumberg said.

In recent years, Bentley remained actively involved in the port's affairs refusing to back down.

The head of the state's Port Administration, James White, recalled a telephone call from the transportation secretary's office six years ago.

"Helen ticked somebody off. They instructed me to terminate her consulting contract with the port,” said White, “The first vision I had was laying on the floor with a five foot two woman standing on my chest saying, 'Go to hell, Jim!'"

See also: Former U.S. Rep. Helen Bentley enters hospice care

Bentley won that battle as well, and for all of the laughs and memorable moments, Reverend Monsignor John L. FitzGerald of the Apostleship of the sea said her legacy reached well beyond the port she loved so much.

"So many families with roofs over their houses, food on their tables, children with books and schools to learn from, employment for their old-age retirement. Helen, you've done the work of God. God bless you. Amen."

Download the ABC2 News app for the iPhone, Kindle and Android.