Former librarian remembered for her love of literature

Former librarian Donna Bentley worked at the University of La Verne’s Wilson Library for 28 years. Her influence on the campus library included work with the Campus Accelerated Program for Adults and resources for military programs. / file photo by Stephanie Arellanes
Former librarian Donna Bentley worked at the University of La Verne’s Wilson Library for 28 years. Her influence on the campus library included work with the Campus Accelerated Program for Adults and resources for military programs. / file photo by Stephanie Arellanes

Brandi Peters
Staff Writer

Donna Bentley, a former librarian of the Wilson Library at the University of La Verne, died Jan. 19 at age 65. 

She was born on May 17, 1957, to Baffrey “Pete” and Melba Bentley in Upland, California. She later moved to Ontario, California, where she graduated from Chaffey High School in 1975. 

Ms. Bentley earned a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies from the University of California, Riverside, in 1979 and a master’s degree in library science from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1981.

She is survived by her brothers, Baffrey Bentley of Harrington, Maine, and Charles Bentley of Dayton, Nevada. She also has several nieces and nephews that she leaves behind. Ms. Bentley is preceded in death by her father and mother.

Ms. Bentley spent many years working as a librarian. Before working at the University of La Verne for 28 years, she worked at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, the University of North Carolina Greensboro, and the University of Nevada, Reno, before returning home to California to work as the children’s Librarian at the Ontario Public Library. 

Then finally arriving at the University of La Verne, she would become very influential in how the library functions today. Her influence would span regionally with programs such as the Campus Accelerated Program for Adults and resources for military programs. 

“She took tremendous pride in what was built through the library and felt it was essential in the University of La Verne moving from a college to a university,” Charles Bentley, Ms. Bentley’s younger brother and retired chief editorial and public relations director of the University of La Verne, said. 

Ms. Bentley was very service-oriented and beloved by students, faculty, and staff. She was known for always being willing to lend a helping hand. She enjoyed teaching students and faculty how to utilize the library to its full potential. She was not just a librarian but a teacher who believed in the power of literacy and the importance of education. 

“Donna Bentley was very dedicated to what she did in helping not only students but faculty as well,” Mike Laponis, communications emeritus professor of the University of La Verne, said. 

Ms. Bentley’s belief in education led her to serve on several committees during her tenure at the University of La Verne. She invested her time in many local and state organizations to help with literacy programs throughout the community.

“Donna was a cat lover,. She always had cats, she was smart, kind and generous.” Charles Bentley said.

Wayne Thurston, executive assistant and learning commons manager of the University of La Verne, said she was all in on staff bowling nights and loved every bit of it.

“Donna Bentley was very good at keeping us informed and putting things in front of us that were useful in our own research and our own teaching,” Laponis said.I appreciated that about Donna.”

Ms. Bentley retired in 2020 from the University of La Verne as conferred professor emeritus. She later purchased a home in a small town in Columbia Falls, Maine, to be closer to family. 

To many, she was considered the heart and soul of the library, very giving of herself and her time. She believed that helping others learn and gain access to information would help make the world better. 

So, in place of flowers, the family asks that support be given to the expansion of literacy in children and adults by donating to a charity of your choice whose cause is education related or by spending time helping someone gain access to resources that could empower them to learn to read.

“She was an encyclopedia of knowledge,” Thurston said. “You could bring up any subject and she would know about it.”

A celebration of life will be held at noon March 10 in the Sacred Space of the Ludwick Center.

Brandi Peters can be reached at brandi.peters@laverne.edu.  

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