Dwight Bentel, who helped start San Jose State’s journalism program and its daily newspaper, turns 100 today. Bentel is also proud to report that he’s the oldest surviving Mercury News reporter. E&P profiled Bentel today (link).
E&P points out that Bentel’s contributions to journalism include starting the Daily Spartan, which hasn’t missed a scheduled publication date in 75 years, and serving on the advisory committee that helped write the Brown Act, opening up government meetings and documents to the public.
Mack Lundstrom, formerly of the Merc who now lectures at the San Jose State J-school, says one of Bentel’s earliest jobs was to serve as a body guard for Mercury Hearld managing editor Merle Gray, who had angred gangsters with his call to close speakeasies. Bentel had a desk outside Lundstrom’s office with a gun in the drawer. And when the editor would go looking for speakeasies, Bentel would literally ride shotgun, according to Lundstrom.