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In the early afternoon of Saturday August 6th our country lost a great leader and a great person. There have been and will be many articles written about Mrs. Bentley, her accomplishments and the impact she has had on our history, the port and the people. Articles that chronicle her political and professional life. I would like to share a few thoughts about the Helen Delich Bentley you may not know.

I had the good fortune and honor to know Mrs. Bentley for the last 15 years. I considered her a mentor and a friend. Many times I was privileged to escort her to industry events relative to international business, the port, manufacturing and manufacturing workers. I learned quickly that Mrs. Bentley was most of all genuine. She said what she meant and she meant what she said.

 

She was a colorful, animated woman who feared nothing and no one. She was passionate in what she believed and difficult to convince otherwise. Mrs. Bentley was a person who believed in people. She had an ability to look into both a person’s eyes and their soul. She could determine both their truthfulness and their passion. She was a problem solver with a very dry sense of humor reserved for those closest to her. Although her body had been failing her for many years, her mind did not.

 

I remember one particular time when she was my guest at a corporate Christmas dinner in Baltimore. We were at McCormick and Schmidt’s on the water. Sitting in one of the private rooms with roughly 75 coworkers and their spouses including my lovely wife (of 37 years) Brenda. We were seated at the head table in the center of the room facing the water. One of the other guests was a gentleman (Paul) from a partner company and his wife. Conversation quickly turned to business and politics and it became abundantly clear that Paul’s wife was a very passionate Democrat. The conversation centered around opposing political views with the entire table actively engaged in the conversation which everyone from both sides of the aisle thoroughly enjoyed. Somewhere between dinner and desert Paul opened a discussion about imports and exports. Paul went on to diminish the value of international trade specific relative to goods transported by water and that ports were becoming a thing of the past. Mrs. Bentley gently placed her hand on mine, looked at my wife and I and smiled. She let Paul continue to explain his thoughts on trade while boasting about his expertise. When Paul finished his remarks, I jumped in to the conversation and made it clear to everyone that before we continued the conversation, I wanted everyone to acknowledge that Paul lit a fuze that could not be extinguished. Everyone laughed and Mrs. Bentley laughed the loudest stating that she would be polite. Mrs. Bentley said “Young man, before we continue this discussion, would you please take a look over your shoulder and tell me what you see”. Paul looked and replied “the harbor”. Mrs. Bentley said, “look closer. What do you see on the other side of the harbor?”. Paul said “I see the port”. She replied, “no young man, you see the Helen Delich Bentley Port of Baltimore.” The room fell silent and Paul’s eyes looked as if he was standing in a tunnel facing a fast moving freight train. Mrs. Bentley went on to share the financial impact of the port and the impact to the U.S. of all ports. When the evening ended I walked Mrs. Bentley to her car and I apologized for Paul and his wife being so confrontational. She relied “don’t be silly, that’s the most fun I have had in many years. I don’t care what position people take in politics I care that they take a position at all. That’s what makes this country great.”

 

Mrs. Bentley was a kind and gentle person. She donated generously to charitable organizations choosing American made products especially vehicles. If you were driving Mrs. Bentley somewhere you needed to make sure you were in an American made vehicle. While that was never an issue for me, I have heard tell she would not ride in an imported vehicle.

 

Once, I shared that my daughter Emily was studying the port in elementary school. Mrs. Bentley volunteered to speak to the school about the importance of the port. The event was extremely interesting and Mrs. Bentley made it clear she enjoyed children and that it was everyone’s responsibility to educate our youth on the importance of international trade. She was generous with her time and she took time to make a difference to those she met.

 

Having accompanied Mrs. Bentley to several events and various manufacturing facilities, it was impressive to see the reception the manufacturing workers gave her. Equally impressive were the number of people who individually came up to her to thank her for helping a specific person. Mrs. Bentley was an advocate for people. She truly loved everyone.

 

Mrs. Bentley defined “buy local”. Restaurants, produce, everything. She was an example we can all learn from.

 

Having spent a lot of time visiting with Mrs. Bentley and arguably the most dedicated staff a person could have in Sandie Morgan and Key Kidder. You cannot talk about Mrs. Bentley’s impact and success without recognizing the strength of the team behind her. Sandy is personal with everyone. Straight talking, matter of fact and on point every time. Key is a consultant and writer with a style as smooth as silk. Equally straight talking and to the point person, Key is a master of both the written and spoken word. You learned a lot about Mrs. Bentley by getting to know her team and they were team in every sense of the word. I am personally grateful to you both for your service to Mrs. Bentley and for your contribution to Maryland and the United States.

 

Mrs. Bentley was remarkably dedicated to helping people. It could be a person who needed a job, someone who was fighting with an insurance company (or corporation) or someone who believed they had built a better widget. Everyone was a client of Mrs. Bentley. Whether you shared her political views or not, people knew they could count on Mrs. Bentley.

 

Some of the most powerful people on the planet relied on Mrs. Bentley regularly. I remember on more than one occasion being late for an appointment with Mrs. Bentley in the passenger seat because she was on the phone with the President. When people would curiously inquire and ask president of what (expecting to hear the name of a corporation)? Mrs. Bentley she would look you square in the eyes and state very matter of fact “there is only one President. The President of the United States”

 

I believe it conservative to say that tens of thousands of people owe their businesses and their jobs to Mrs. Bentley and her team. Hundreds of millions of dollars in business is transacted domestically and internationally because Mrs. Bentley and her team cared. A wise person once told me that in life there are a few people who really make a difference. When we look back on our lives it is not the professional athletes, not the movie stars, and not the celebrities we remember. The people that make a difference are those who truly show they care. Their actions are consistent and their commitment genuine. It is the teacher, the coach, the aunt or uncle that believed in you when others didn’t. They were the ones who ran in while others ran away. Helen Delich Bentley was one of those people. She made a difference. Together with her team (Sandie and Key) they made a difference in our Country, in our State, and together they have made a difference to thousands of people. Mrs. Bentley is an icon. For me personally, Helen Delich Bentley was a leader, an advocate, a mentor and a friend. Rest in peace.

 

Respectfully,

Carl Livesay, VP Operations

Land Sea Air Manufacturing