Robert Kent, 91, of Billings, died on April 20, 2020, sitting in his favorite chair.
Robert was born an only child on July 24, 1928, to Ray and Myrtle Kent of Broadus. He and his parents moved around a bit, but ended up in Miles City. At the age of 20, Robert “Bob” joined the USAF and had the opportunity to travel and be stationed in Texas, Wyoming, Florida, Virginia, Puerto Rico, Louisiana and Morocco. In 1955, he came home for a visit and met Donna Mildred Kemph. They fell in love and were married on Feb. 19, 1956. They were then stationed in Texas, Minot and Glasgow and had their first four children during those years. Bob, unfortunately, had a mild heart attack while he was stationed in Glasgow, which translated into him being medically discharged from the Air Force. That was disappointing, as he had hoped to have a long military career.
In 1963, Bob and Donna moved back to Miles City, where their fifth child was born. In 1972, during a time when Donna had some serious medical challenges, Bob was tired of working at the VA Hospital in Miles City and wanted to study refrigeration and air conditioning at the Vo-Tech school in Billings. He temporarily lived with some family in Billings and then graduated and quickly moved his wife and kids to Billings, where he started a new career at the United States Postal Service as an Engineman. He retired in 1989.
Bob was an exceptional man. He was a dedicated, loyal and loving husband, father and grandfather who was hardworking and provided for his family well. He had a gentle, accepting and unconditionally loving way about him. He was always interested in how we were doing and engaged in wanting to know about our lives. He loved to tell jokes and never told the same one twice. We could be having a normal conversation with him and he would start sharing about something and often it took a moment to realize he was telling a story or a joke. It always was tied into the conversation going on somehow.
In 2007, Donna’s health had declined, and they moved into the Sweetwater Retirement Facility in Billings. Donna passed away six months after they moved in. Dad and Mom had celebrated their 52nd wedding anniversary before she passed.
Bob stayed in that same apartment that he and Donna had shared until his death. The pictures were still on the wall from where our mom had hung them. Bob was one of the youngest tenants there at age 79 and he thrived in that facility. He made many friends and enjoyed the fun events that they offered. As Betty Jean (the Activities Director) would say … Bob was her “co-pilot” … always sitting in the passenger seat of the van that was going somewhere fun. Dad was the first to sign up. Sweetwater and Betty Jean and Cassy were his “second” family. Our family will always be grateful for the caring and love that our Dad received from them.
We feel fortunate to have seen our dad live to the full age of 91. Through the years, after his heart attack at age 34, he has had many heart-related challenges that could have easily shortened his life. He had open heart surgery, carotid artery surgery, a pacemaker and most recently, about five months ago, was hospitalized with some serious heart valve complications. He has been doing great since then and had been enjoying feeling better.
Bob was a social guy — and the COVID-19 restrictions were really dampening his active 91-year old spirit. He was making the best of it, but he was the most isolated he had ever been in his life. Just 24 hours prior to his death, his kids and he shared a two-hour Messenger call where they could see each other’s faces and laugh and tell stories. The next day, Bob quietly took his last breath. What a great memory and gift to us kids that we had that time with him.
He is survived by his five children, Kathy (Kevin) Johnson, Marilyn (Kirk) Wehmeyer, Mike (Starla) Kent, Joanie (Mel) Huschka, all of Billings, and his son Marty (Barb) of Bozeman. He is also survived by 15 amazing grandchildren and 19 beautiful great-grandchildren, and another great-grandchild due in August.
ALL of his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren adored and loved him. We ALL have been unbelievably blessed that we have had the privilege of knowing him, loving him and doting on him all of these years.
Cremation has taken place. A memorial and Catholic Mass will be scheduled at a future date. Bob asked that in lieu of flowers, donations can be made to RiverStone Hospice in honor of his wife, Donna Kent.