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Dwight Bentel, father of SJSU journalism, dies at 103

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Dwight E. Bentel, who founded what became the journalism school at San Jose State University, died this morning in a Saratoga care home. He was 103. The Spartan Daily, the student newspaper that Bentel founded in 1934, broke the news. Bentel spent 40 years as an educator on the SJSU campus, where the journalism building is named in his honor. The author of two books, he also wrote a column for Editor & Publisher magazine. His journalism career began as a copy boy and reporter in San Jose in the 1920s. An excerpt from the obit prepared for the Mercury News by Mike Rosenberg:
There was his first day on the job at the old San Jose Mercury Herald in 1928, when his editor handed him a gun instead of a notebook. Prohibition was in full force, and the paper was crusading to run bootleggers out of town. Several shady characters had threatened to kill the managing editor, Merle Gray. "Merle handed me a big Spanish American War Colt revolver, a .45," Bentel recalled with a chuckle for the Mercury News in 2001. "My desk faced the elevator. He said if you see somebody coming in who looks like trouble, you let 'em have it. Luckily, I never had to use it.”
Image: Dwight Bentel on his 100th birthday at SJSU/ The Daily Spartan
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