Few knew her, but Maquies Bentley surprised UK Children’s Hospital with big bequest

Maquies Bentley, the UK HealthCare employee who left Kentucky Children’s Hospital more than $279,000 after her death in 2015.
Maquies Bentley, the UK HealthCare employee who left Kentucky Children’s Hospital more than $279,000 after her death in 2015. Photo submitted

“That things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.” — George Eliot, “Middlemarch”

Maquies Bentley lived a quiet life and went out with a big bang of generosity.

The Knott County native never married, had no children and never drove a car. She lived in a small apartment near UK HealthCare, where she worked a modest job from 1980 until she retired in August 2007 after a fall. She spent the last several years of her job in pathology, logging in specimens.

Bentley, 71, died in June 2015 after being diagnosed with cancer. Two colleagues who visited her in spring 2015 said that Bentley knew she wouldn’t live much longer.

The tiny woman, best known for her jet-black hair — always in an updo with a barrette bow coordinated to her outfit — left combined assets of more than $279,000 to the Kentucky Children’s Hospital.

Her assets included a retirement account of $39,509, a life insurance policy death benefit of $159,814, and a Chase Bank account of $80,064.

She also left a 10-acre parcel in Knott County, which was given to the estate administrator as compensation.

After her retirement from UK, Maquies Bentley moved back to Eastern Kentucky, but she eventually returned to a small efficiency apartment in Lexington.

No one knew that Maquies Bentley would leave behind that kind of money. But then, few people knew Maquies Bentley. She had no social media presence and is something of a mystery even to the all-knowing search engine of Google.

She was apparently one of the younger siblings from the marriage of Benjamin F. and Dina Martin Bentley of Mallie, a community in Knott County.

Her sisters included Della, Attie, Hattie, Mattie, Edna and Fannie; her brothers were Vinson and Junior. By 2013, the only survivors listed in Attie’s obituary were Della, Vinson and Maquies.

Attempts to reach Della and Vinson were unsuccessful.

The name Maquies is distinctive, sounding as if it could have come from Spanish or Portuguese roots. Or perhaps the Bentleys just wanted to give their daughter a royal-sounding name like “Marquess” and went with an alternative spelling; in any case, it was pronounced “Ma-cues.”

Bentley was remembered as “the hair bow lady” at work, and for her love of two things: Elvis Presley, whose songs she knew by heart, and all things University of Kentucky.

“She was totally dedicated to UK,” said Ann Smith, chief of enterprise academic service lines for UK Healthcare. “She kind of kept to herself, although she was very polite and kind. ... She had a modest income. She was a modest lady, very lady-like... and she always had her hair bow on.”

Bentley was buried in section 55, lot 44 at the Lexington Cemetery. If you’re thereabouts, stop by and thank her for the life she led, and the generosity of her legacy to Kentucky’s sick children.

Cheryl Truman: 859-231-3202, @CherylTruman.