Legendary Founder of San Jose State Student Newspaper, Journalism Program Dies at 103

The entire top portion of The Spartan Daily homepage has been rejiggered to deliver news of the death of Dwight Bentel.  It’s a small, fitting tribute.  After all, he’s the reason the paper exists.

Bentel spearheaded the formation of the San Jose State University student newspaper in 1934.  He also started the SJSU journalism program, now the full-blown School of Journalism & Mass Communications.  To say Bentel had a long career is an understatement– early on, he even wrote about Prohibition.  (As a local NBC affiliate shared: “Bentel said his editor handed him a gun instead of a notebook  when he was writing a story about chasing bootleggers out of town.”)

Among many other achievements during his time at SJSU, he mentored countless students.  As retired sportswriter Bill Soliday wrote in a Facebook comment beneath a San Jose Mercury News article, echoing many others: “Forever grateful to the man I consider to be the most memorable teacher I ever encountered. A legend of the first order. Like the voice of God.”

One other memory from a former student: “This man was such a bundle of energy that he never walked but he ran.  He was an Olympian racer of Spartan endurance and set such high standards in developing the working press it left you breathless just to see him in action.”

My favorite snippet from the many memories featured in the Spartan Daily and other local California media: Once, when challenged by a dean on a story about football players misbehaving that the school wanted squashed, Bentel apparently told him simply, “Stick to deaning.” :)

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