Herbert Leroy Bent, 80, founded plumbing firm

March 16, 2004

Herbert Leroy Bent, who founded a plumbing business and owned several others, died Friday of cancer at Mariner Health of Catonsville. The Catonsville resident was 80.

Born in McCook, Neb., he was raised in Hagerstown, where he attended Hagerstown High School and played the saxophone in the Johnny Summers Band in the late 1930s.

He helped build aircraft at the Fairchild plant in Hagerstown before joining the Army and serving in Europe in World War II.

After the war, he moved to Baltimore and founded the Benroy Diner on Caton Avenue. He later opened the Benroy Vending Co. and sold the diner.

Mr. Bent owned other businesses, including Swisher's Potato Chips in Hagerstown. He also bought and sold cattle for the William A. Hylton Co. in Howard County.

In 1969 he established Melroy Plumbing in Catonsville, which is operated by his two surviving sons, H. Lance and Mark J. Bent, both of Ellicott City.

Mr. Bent held the presidencies of the Maryland Automatic Merchandising Association and the West Baltimore Kiwanis Club.

He was a former member of Brantley Baptist Church and belonged to the American Legion's Dewey Lowman Post in Arbutus, the Boumi Temple's Wrecking Crew and the Pythagoras Lodge. He was a 32nd-degree Mason.

Mr. Bent enjoyed vacationing in Ocean City and fished in many white marlin tournaments.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. tomorrow at Witzke Funeral Home, 1630 Edmondson Ave., Catonsville.

In addition to his sons, survivors include his wife of 58 years, the former Ethel VanGosen; a daughter, Sandra Butler of San Diego; and five grandchildren. Another son, Kirk D. Bent, died in 1974.

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