Earl J. Bentley

Published 3:29 pm Friday, February 22, 2013

Dr. Earl J. Bentley, 84, of Circle Drive, Morehead, Ky., passed away Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013, at St. Claire Regional Medical Center in Morehead.

Born April 10, 1928, in Greenville, Ala., he was the son of the late Alvin David and Mary Belle Kennedy Bentley.  Besides his parents, he was preceded in death by one brother, Alfred Bryan Bentley.

Earl is survived by his devoted wife of 61 years, LeMerle Brown Bentley; two sons, Stanley Earl Bentley and wife Terri of Winchester, Ky., and Anthony Brown “Tony” Bentley and wife Wendy of Southgate, Ky.; six grandchildren, Tamara, Monica, Stuart, Kyle, Chet, and Chloe; and three great-grandchildren, Asher,  Colt, and Willa.  He is also survived by one sister, Jean Faulkner of Phenix City, Ala.; nieces; nephews; and many treasured friends.

Email newsletter signup

Dr. Bentley received his undergraduate degree at Troy State University; master’s at the University of Tennessee; and Ed.D. at the University of Southern Mississippi.  He was a former coach and athletic director at Southern Union Junior College in Wadley, Ala., and served his country in the U.S. Army during the Korean War.

Since 1959, when Dr. Bentley was hired as assistant football coach, track coach, and assistant professor of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation, he has been known as a constant recruiter for Morehead State University, a mentor to countless students, and an unfaltering supporter of education.

During his 30-year career at MSU, Dr. Bentley not only coached football, track and women’s soccer, he was also involved in the desegregation movement, coached the first African-American athlete in the OVC, started the master’s degree program in HPER and the Emergency Medical Technician program, and served as chair of the HPER Department.  He taught off-campus classes traveling throughout eastern Kentucky; served as Head of the NCAA Sport Camp for a number of years; and enjoyed on a daily basis meeting and encouraging people from all walks of life, many of whom became lifelong friends.  His genuine concern for others, his quick wit and humor were always present.  Dr. Bentley was named Professor Emeritus of HPER in 1989.

Following his retirement, Dr. Bentley received the Founders Day Award for University Service in 2000; and in October 2012, was once again honored for his dedication and devotion to the MSU community. A former football player, out of respect for Coach Bentley, spearheaded a fundraising campaign that resulted in the Student-Athlete Learning Lab in the EAGLE Center being named the “Dr. Earl J. Bentley Student-Athlete Learning Lab.”   An endowed scholarship in Dr. Bentley’s name will be awarded to a full-time graduate or fifth-year student who participated in an intercollegiate sport as an undergraduate enrolled at MSU.

Earl and LeMerle were always involved in family, community, and church events.  A longtime active member of the First Baptist Church, Earl served as deacon, Sunday school teacher, and choir member.

Funeral services were conducted at 11 a.m. Monday, Feb. 18, 2013, at the First Baptist Church with Dr. Don Mantooth officiating.  Burial was in Forest Lawn Memorial Gardens with full military honors by Morehead American Legion Post No. 126.

Pallbearers:  Bill Baldridge, Miles Brown, David Caudill, Buford Crager, Dean Harney, Doug Jones, Carlos Marin, and Chris Shearer

Honorary Pallbearers:  former athletes

Visitation was from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2013, at Northcutt & Son Home for Funerals, 400 Fraley Drive, Morehead, KY 40351.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions are suggested to the MSU Foundation, Dr. Earl Bentley Scholarship Endowment, Palmer Development House, Morehead State University, Morehead, KY 40351 or First Baptist Church, Building Fund, 123 East Main Street, Morehead, KY 40351.

View memorial tribute or sign guestbook at www.northcuttandson.com