FALMOUTH – Robert Galen Bent, 86, son of Frank Noel Mace Bent and Harriett Josephine Deguio, died early in the morning of Aug. 9, 2015. He was born in South Portland on May 27, 1929 and attended local schools. A graduate of Maine Maritime Academy, Class of 1950, he served as an officer in the U.S. Merchant Marine for two years, then attended Tufts University earning a B.S. in political science in 1953. After two years of active duty in the U.S. Navy, he returned to Tufts, the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, earning an M.A. in International Relations. It was at Fletcher that he met his wife, Marta, a fellow student, and they were married on 6 Oct. 1956.
He accepted a position with the Federal Government and served a number of years as a Foreign Service Officer with assignments at U.S. Embassies in Jidda, Saudi Arabia; Damascus, Syria and Teheran, Iran. Later in his career, while based in Washington, D.C., his duties took him to Baghdad, Prague, Berlin, Rome, Panama and Seoul. He retired in 1986 and he and his wife moved back to Maine, settling first in Scarborough and then moving to OceanView Retirement Community in Falmouth.
Robert loved U.S. history, especially the Civil War, and spent many happy hours touring the battlefields around Washington, D.C. with Smithsonian Institute docents. Maine history also was of interest, and he participated in several archeological digs under Robert L. Bradley of the Maine Historic Preservation Commission at Phipps Point and at the Stevens Tavern on Stevens Avenue. The Middle East also fascinated him, particularly the disastrous impact made on the area by WWI and the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916 and he had enormous sympathy for the emerging State of Palestine and for the struggles of the Kurds throughout the region.
He loved to tour ancient ruins – moonlight strolls through the glorious ruins of Palmyra were remembered with great pleasure. Trips to Persepolis, Petra, Jerash, the temples of Malta, the pyramids of Egypt and the Mayan pyramids in the Yucatan, the Greek ruins in Turkey, Greece, Rhodes, and Crete, England’s Stonehenge and Avebury were all on his bucket list. Islamic architecture and mosaics were intriguing and explored in trips to Morocco, to the Alhambra in Spain, and to Isfahan, Hamadan and Kermanshah in Iran. He frequently shared these experiences with travel programs at the Scarborough Public Library.
Volunteering played an important role in Robert’s life here in Maine. He served as president of the Portland Marine Society and of the Maine Maritime Academy Alumni Association. He was on the Board of Directors of the Portland Harbor Museum for over a decade – one of his greatest joys was working on the clipper ship Snow Squall Project – and he visited many local schools with educational slide shows. Most recently he was a docent at the South Portland Historical Society Museum at Spring Point and he served on the Board of Directors of the Spring Point Ledge Light, devoting many weekends to helping with tours of the Light.
He is survived by his wife, Marta; his daughter, Galen Hillers (born in Jidda, Saudi Arabia), of New Market, Md., his son, Geoffrey (born in Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic) of Arlington, Va.; five grandchildren, Kristin, Shelby and Joshua Hillers and Maxwell and Nicholas Bent.
A celebration of Robert’s life will be held at Blueberry Commons, OceanView Retirement Community, 5 Blueberry Lane, Falmouth on Thursday Aug. 27, 2015 at 2 p.m. Please visit
to view a video collage of Robert’s life and to share condolences, memories and tributes with his family.For those who wish, donations may be made in Robert’s memory to:
Maine Maritime Academy
Castine, Maine 04420