Robert (Bob) L. Kent, age 86, of Essex Jct., VT passed away peacefully on Tuesday, June 11, 2019 at the McClure-Miller Respite House.
Bob was born on February 25, 1933 in Northfield, VT. He grew up in Rochester, VT with his parents William and Katie Kent and his sister Beverly Kent (Gilman).
In 1951, he attended Lyndon Teachers College (LTC) where he was active in baseball, basketball and theater. After his sophomore year, Bob enlisted in the U.S. Army for two years. He returned to LTC where he and Shirley Jenks met as the lead characters in the play “Bell, Book and Candle”. If you’re familiar with the play, then you’ll know the spell was cast and never broken.
After graduating in 1957, Bob married Shirley who was teaching in Essex Jct., VT at the time. He accepted a job in Essex Jct. teaching math, science and physical education at the new Intermediate School, and he taught there for 34 years. Former students may remember nicknaming Bob’s office “Mr. Kent’s Deli”. While employed there, Bob took a course that inspired him to teach Introductory Physical Science (IPS) to his eighth graders where he implemented hands on learning rather than demonstration. He believed in presenting the problem and allowing the students to come up with the solution. Bob was at least ten years ahead of the rest of the world with this practice and also with team teaching.
Bob continued his education over the years at six colleges, acquiring 86.5 graduate hours. He spent one year at Michigan State on a National Science Foundation Scholarship. He served several years on the VEA Professional Rights and Responsibilities Committee, first as a member and then as chairman.
He was a founding member of the Essex Community Theater which was forming in 1958. Bob enjoyed performing in many plays and was an active member of the theater into the late 1980s.
In 1956, Bob had started working summers at the Mt. Washington Cog Railway, NH as a fireman, and then later as the engineer on his favorite steam locomotive, the Ammonoosuc. As an engineer and train master, he was a mentor and friend to many of the younger men. To this day they still remember Bob’s dry wit: "You’re either going up the mountain or down the mountain,” he would often tell them.
An avid photographer, Bob always carried a camera with him, and his photos of LTC, Cog Railway and the Intermediate School have been valuable in recording their histories.
After retiring from teaching, Bob worked at the newly opened Hannaford in Williston as a fishmonger for five years. He delighted in showing children the lobsters from the tank and always had Swedish Fish for them. He enjoyed interacting with the customers and sharing recipes. In fact, the kitchen at home became his new “lab”, as he had fun experimenting with favorite foods and spices.
Bob loved to drive, and he and Shirley crossed the US and Canada twice, stopping at Whistler, BC and riding the lifts up Blackcomb in July to watch snowboarding on the glacier. Bob was most happy when he was riding his John Deere to mow the lawns. Every holiday the whole family would gather to celebrate at the Kent home.
Bob is survived by his wife of 62 years, Shirley, and his children Jeffrey Kent, Kellie (Peter) Moreman, Karyl Kent (Bernie Young), Kristin (Marty) Gleason and Keith (Kiley) Kent. He will be loved and remembered by his ten grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
A celebration of life will be held at a later date when the whole family is home. To honor Bob’s memory donations may be made to:
McClure-Miller Respite House 1110 Prim Road
Colchester, VT 05446
Annual Fund for Scholarships Northern Vermont University-Lyndon PO Box 919
Lyndonville, VT 05851
“Outstanding in his field”