Businessman D. J. Bentley, Arts Patron, Dies at 64

Funeral services will be conducted today for Orange County businessman and arts supporter Donald James Bentley. The founder of Bentley Laboratories, who was 64, died Monday of a heart attack in his Lido Isle home.

The company Bentley started in his Newport Beach home in 1963 grew into a medical equipment giant and was sold in 1981 to American Hospital Supply Corp. of Chicago for $243 million. After selling Bentley Laboratories, Bentley served on the boards of a number of medical-related companies. A month before his death, he and his three sons formed a new company, Costa Mesa-based Bentech Laboratories, to research and manufacture medical and agricultural products,

In 1979, Bentley joined the effort to bring a performing arts center to Orange County. He and his wife, Irene, pledged $2 million to the Center drive in 1981, and were among the first major donors. Bentley went on to serve two terms as chairman and two terms as president of the Orange County Performing Arts Center board of directors and made the ceremonial first first scoop of dirt at ground-breaking festivities for the Center in 1983. The complex is scheduled to open Sept. 29.


In a telephone interview March 14, Bentley called the Center “the most significant thing almost ever in the history of Orange County.” He added, “This is changing the perception of the area.”

Bentley’s other community activities included involvement with Chapman College, Hoag Memorial Hospital and Big Brothers of Orange County.

Born in Elsinore, Bentley went on to graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis with a degree in mechanical engineering. He is survived by his wife and three sons, Ted, Chris and Jim, and his mother, Essie Bentley Davies.

Private rites will be held at Pacific View Memorial Park & Mortuary in Newport Beach.