Bentley’s ben­e­fi­cia­ries in­clude hos­pi­tal, Pride of Bal­ti­more

Con­gress­woman also left $1 mil­lion for a grand­niece

Baltimore Sun - - FRONT PAGE - By Michael Dresser and John-John Wil­liams

He­len Delich Bentley, the for­mer con­gress­woman from Mary­land who died last month at 92, left large be­quests from an es­tate es­ti­mated at $2.4 mil­lion to a chil­dren’s hos­pi­tal, an­i­mal-re­lated char­i­ties and the tall ship Pride of Bal­ti­more.

Bentley, a widow who had no chil­dren, put aside $1 mil­lion in trust for a grand­niece in Cal­i­for­nia.

In a 12-page will filed in Bal­ti­more County, Bentley also left smaller gifts to friends and rel­a­tives. Among those re­ceiv­ing be­quests is a long­time friend who was con­victed of bank fraud and cam­paign fi­nance vi­o­la­tions in the 1990s.

Bentley, a for­mer Bal­ti­more Sun re­porter and edi­tor who served five terms in Con­gress from 1985 to 1995, died of brain For­mer Rep. He­len Delich Bentley left an es­tate es­ti­mated at $2.4 mil­lion. cancer Aug. 6 at her home in Ti­mo­nium.

Af­ter the be­quest to grand­niece Jen­nie Lee Hartman, Bentley’s sec­ond-largest gift was $500,000 for the St. Jude Chil­dren’s Re­search Hos­pi­tal in Mem­phis. She made that be­quest in the name of her late brother Sam Delich and his wife, Clorinda Pet­ricc-

cianni Delich, for chil­dren’s cancer re­search.

Bentley was a long­time cham­pion of the port of Bal­ti­more. Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. named the port for her in 2006.

Re­flect­ing her sup­port for mar­itime Mary­land, Bentley left $100,000 to The Pride of Bal­ti­more Inc., which op­er­ates the his­toric replica sail­ing ship as a good­will am­bas­sador for the city. That’s a boost for an or­ga­ni­za­tion that took in just over $600,000 in to­tal rev­enue in 2014, the last year for which its tax re­turns are on­line.

Rick Scott, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the group, hadn’t heard of the be­quest be­fore he was con­tacted by The Bal­ti­more Sun. Bentley was a long­time mem­ber of The Pride’s board.

“That she in­cluded the Pride in her will is re­ally pretty heart­warm­ing,” Scott said. “A hun­dred thou­sand dol­lars is a sig­nif­i­cant amount of money for the or­ga­ni­za­tion and al­lows us to con­tinue our mis­sion into 2017 and be­yond.”

Bentley left $100,000 to the Bal­ti­more Mu­seum of In­dus­try, but that gift came with strings at­tached. She di­rected that the mu­seum use it to pub­lish on video or other modern for­mat the tele­vi­sion se­ries she hosted on WMAR for many years: “The Port that Built a City and a State.”

A dog lover, Bentley left a com­bined $150,000 to three an­i­mal-re­lated causes: the Mary­land So­ci­ety for the Preven­tion of Cru­elty to An­i­mals, the Hu­mane So­ci­ety of Bal­ti­more County and De­fend­ers of An­i­mal Rights in Phoenix, Md.

Two jour­nal­ism schools, those at the Uni­ver­sity of Ne­vada in her na­tive state and her alma mater at the Uni­ver­sity of Mis­souri, re­ceived $100,000 gifts.

Bentley left be­quests of $15,000 to $80,000 to sev­eral in­di­vid­u­als, in­clud­ing $50,000 for her niece, Sue Ever­son of Ran­cho Cor­dova, Calif.

One gift that stands out is the $50,000 she left to Brian Davis, a friend who lives in one of the homes Bentley owned at the time of her death.

Davis, a truck­ing ex­ec­u­tive, achieved some no­to­ri­ety in the 1990s when he was found to have de­frauded lo­cal banks of an es­ti­mated $2.4 mil­lion. Davis ob­tained ti­tles for his truck­ing com­pany’s ve­hi­cles in sev­eral states and took out mul­ti­ple loans backed by the same trucks as col­lat­eral.

He was con­victed and sent to fed­eral prison in 1997. He was re­leased in 2005.

At the time he was scam­ming the banks, Davis was con­tribut­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars to cam­paigns. He gave to politi­cians of both par­ties — mostly in Mary­land. Many of the con­tri­bu­tions were il­le­gal.

The largest sin­gle ben­e­fi­ciary of Davis’ largesse was Bentley, a friend of his mother. She re­ceived more than $55,000 from Davis. Many of the gifts were do­nated il­le­gally un­der the names of Davis’ rel­a­tives.

Bentley de­nied any knowl­edge of Davis’ il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties. They were re­ported by The Sun two years af­ter she lost her 1994 bid for the Repub­li­can nom­i­na­tion for gov­er­nor.

Af­ter his re­lease from prison, Davis reap­peared in Bentley’s life as a helper and fre­quent com­pan­ion. As Bentley got older, Davis would some­times drive her to pub­lic events. He main­tained her two homes in re­turn for room and board.

Davis, 60, said Bentley was like a “sec­ond mother” to him. He said he helped Bentley when she was sick and in­jured, and held her in his arms when she died.

“We were pals long be­fore I got in trou­ble,” he said. “She was my friend, and I was shocked that she left me any­thing.” There was no fu­neral for Bentley. Richard Scher, spokesman for the Mary­land Port Ad­min­is­tra­tion, said the agency is plan­ning an in­vi­ta­tion-only me­mo­rial ser­vice on the morn­ing of Nov. 4 at the port’s cruise ter­mi­nal. He said plans for a pub­lic me­mo­rial later that day are still be­ing de­vel­oped.

Mean­while, the con­tents from Bentley’s two Ti­mo­nium-area homes will be sold in two — pos­si­bly three — sales due to the vol­ume of in­ven­tory that she amassed, ac­cord­ing to Paul Cooper, vice pres­i­dent of Alex Cooper Auc­tion­eers in Tow­son.

“The vol­umes are just off the charts,” Cooper said

Bentley’s late hus­band, Wil­liam Bentley, was an an­tiques dealer in Bal­ti­more and Cock­eysville for many years, and she op­er­ated the busi­ness for sev­eral years af­ter his death in 2003.

Cooper de­scribes a trea­sure trove of “thou­sands” of items in­clud­ing an ex­ten­sive col­lec­tion of fine porce­lain from Asia and Europe; a “won­der­ful’ col­lec­tion of 19th cen­tury Rus­sian porce­lain; collectible glass­ware; and Ori­en­tal rugs and fur­ni­ture.

The first sale, which will fea­ture about 900 items, will be held the first week of Novem­ber. A sec­ond sale is planned for De­cem­ber. If nec­es­sary, a third sale will be held in Jan­uary.

“It’s not like she kept a home like we have,” Cooper said. “The rooms were lined with china cab­i­nets. Each had five or six shelves, chock full. This wasn’t like you and I would dec­o­rate our house. This was an ex­ten­sion of her an­tique store. Her house was like her ware­house.”

LLOYD FOX/BAL­TI­MORE SUN

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