Paving the Way
Logistics & the Port: The Honorable Helen Delich Bentley
Often described as a fierce and tireless champion of Baltimore’s maritime, trade and manufacturing industries, former Congresswoman Helen Delich Bentley got her start as a reporter at The Baltimore Sun in 1945. After her passing in 2016, the Sun reported: “After a stint covering labor, she was dispatched to the waterfront to revive coverage of the port, a beat the newspaper had neglected during World War II. She had never seen a ship, or the ocean. It was a tough, male-dominated environment, but she loved it.” (https://www.baltimoresun.com/obituaries/bs-md-ob-helen-bentley-2016-20160806-story.html)
Through a tenacious spirit and ‘gruff’ style, Bentley earned the respect of local union members and business and shipping leaders. Her reporting for the Sun educated many about U.S. maritime issues, using the port of Baltimore as the lens through which to understand the industry. As the chair of the Federal Maritime Administration from 1969-1975, Bentley was the highest-ranking woman under President Nixon. She returned to Baltimore in 1975 as a consultant to the maritime industry. Driven by her efforts to support the dredging of the Chesapeake Bay so that it could accommodate the world's largest cargo ships, Bentley entered politics. She would go on to serve in the House of Representatives from 1985 to 1995. By the end of her first term in Congress, Bentley had helped to pass a bill allowing the dredging of a 50-foot channel in the Baltimore port, making it the only East Coast port with that distinction at the time.
Congresswoman Bentley received many honors over the years, including induction into the International Maritime Hall of Fame in 2004. In 2006, as part of its 300th anniversary celebration, the port of Baltimore was officially renamed the “Helen Delich Bentley Port of Baltimore.” Bentley passed in 2016 at the age of 92.
IT & Military and Defense: Winnifred “Wink” Jonas
After completing college in 1946, Winifred “Wink” Jonas began working as a mathematician at the Ballistic Research Laboratory of the U.S. Army’s Aberdeen Proving Ground in Harford County. Jonas was initially part of the “human computers” teams that worked with adding machines to develop firing tables for the artillery. Shortly after that, she was selected to join a team of other women to program the new ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer), the first completely electronic computer. Jonas assisted mathematicians, physicists, and engineers analyzing captured German V2 rockets. She worked through several generations of large computing devices and assisted in analyzing instrumental data for many projects, including the first hydrogen bomb.
After her three children left home, Jonas returned to work at the Aberdeen Proving Ground after attending college a third time to take courses in modern computer programing languages. She worked for seven years at CSTA as a programmer and system manager on projects that included testing the M1 tank and the Bradley fighting vehicle. Learn more about Jonas' work and service to her community in this recent Harford County video: https://harfordcountyliving.com/2022/03/harford-county-celebrates-womens-history-month/
Retiring in 1987 after 18 years of service with the Department of the Army, she was honored in 1996 as a Pioneer in the Computing Field. Jonas passed away at age 96 in 2021.
Healthcare & Education: Sophia Arabatzis Balis, D.D.S.
Born in 1930 at a refugee camp in Greece, Dr. Sophia Arabatzis Balis, D.D.S. experienced the horrors of World War II which would influence her perspective on community welfare and human rights. After completing studies in Greece and then the U.S. – achieving two Doctorate of Dental Surgery degrees – she would go on to become the first woman appointed to the previously all male faculty of the world’s first dental school (est. 1840), the University of Maryland School of Dentistry (UMSOD). In 1966, Dr. Balis was first appointed assistant professor and then associate professor, lecturer and clinical supervisor of dental students until she retired from UMSOD in 1991.
During her 25-year career at UMSOD, Dr. Balis pioneered the way for women in dentistry and dental hygiene and introduced the study of Humanities in dental education. She is also credited with being the first in Baltimore to initiate programs to prevent dental cavities in children by using fluoride application, now a universal practice. Due to Dr. Balis’ efforts, thousands of women have graduated as dentists and dental hygienists and have achieved academic appointments as faculty members at all levels of training.
Her lasting contribution to education is her paper on Humanities in Dental Education. Dr. Balis continued teaching long after her retirement and received many accolades for her advances in healthcare. She was appointed Professor Emeritus of the University of Maryland School of Dentistry in 2006 and was inducted into the Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame in 2016. Dr. Balis passed in 2018 at the age of 88. Learn more, here: https://msa.maryland.gov/msa/educ/exhibits/womenshallfame/html/balis.html