Helen Delich Bentley’s Final Passage

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Helen BentleyFormer Congresswoman and longtime Port of Baltimore advocate Helen Delich Bentley died Saturday following a battle with brain cancer. She was 92. As we saw when she responded to word that she entered hospice with a declaration that “Dammit, I’m still right here,” Bentley liked to make sure she had a say when her name appeared in the news. In one anecdote about her life, it looks like this originated when her byline was appearing in the newspaper as a reporter for the Baltimore Sun.

According to an account she wrote for the Baltimore Sun 2012, Bentley’s final assignment was a voyage aboard the first merchant ship to traverse the Northwest Passage. While dictating her story over the phone, she writes than an editor couldn’t understand the word “reading.” Bentley said she dictated it to him four times, then let out an “aw, s – -.”

After this, the headline of the story from the ship changed, as the only phone line from the ship was shut down. Those aboard believed that the Federal Communications Commission shut it down because Bentley’s remark violated their appropriate language standards. But it turns out the FCC didn’t find the violation on their own.

“I realized later that sponsor Humble Oil was trying to one-up the only female correspondent onboard, and management later admitted that it had seized the chance to eliminate press traffic from the ship,” Bentley wrote.

Humble Oil didn’t silence her permanently, however. After disembarking the Manhattan, Bentley became the first female chair of the Federal Maritime Commission, which regulates shipping.



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