Private services will be held at Geo. M. Wittich-Lewis Home for Funeral and Cremation Services.  Public visitation: 3-7 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 1st, at the funeral home.  Burial: Greenwood Cemetery.  Online condolences: www.lewisfuneralhomes.com.  


 

IOWA CITY, Iowa—James H. Kent, 89, of Muscatine, passed away on Monday, Oct. 29, 2012, at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

Casket bearers will be Molly Boyer, Stephanie Vandygriff, Jimmy Kent, Emma Kent, Ben Sweere, Jeff Bohling, Josh Boyer and Cecil Vandygriff.     Honorary casket bearers will be Marvin Krieger, Larry Gatzke, Ted McKee, Jack Garbutt, Bob Harrison, Paul Stych, Noel Hoopes and Larry Carter.

Memorials may be directed to the Evangelical Christian Support Foundation in James' name.

James H. Kent was born on July 25, 1923, in Indianola, Iowa, the son of Gage Allison and Mildred Ellen (Johnson) Kent.  On June 19, 1949, James was united in marriage to Irene Kemp in Oskaloosa, Iowa.  James attended Calvary Church, was a member of Rotary and was an honorary and sustaining member as a Paul Harris Fellow,  a 32nd degree Mason of Lodge #2 AF & AM, a member of the Scottish Rite and the KAABA Shrine. James stood as one of Iowa's most distinguished business leaders and citizens.  Mr. Kent's business career spanned six decades of success in agriculture related industries, including animal nutrition and feed manufacturing, corn refining and distillation and food products.  In his early years as an adult, Mr. Kent interspersed college attendance in the U.S. and in England, with a tour of duty in Europe as a Machine Gun Sargent with the 66th Infantry Division during WWII.  Upon separation from the military in 1946, Mr. Kent joined his father in business in Muscatine.  Various positions held in procurement, production and sales prepared him well for his eventual assignment in 1965 as operating President of the Muscatine industrial giants of Grain Processing Corporation and Kent Feeds, Inc.  Nearly 40 years later Mr. Kent was serving as Chief Executive Officer of the privately held administrative parent company Kent Corporation.

This self-effacing leader quietly made his mark in other arenas as well.  Board and leadership positions too numerous to list completely include:  industry associations, local Boards, both public and private, and college and university trustee positions.  Of particular interest to Mr. Kent for decades was the furthering of higher education.  A holder of three honorary doctorate degrees, he applied his proven brand of steady and strategic leadership to the Iowa College Foundation, Simpson College, Iowa Wesleyan College, Iowa State University Engineering College, Judson University of Elgin, Illinois, and the Business Administration Board at the University of Iowa.  

Throughout his life, James Kent was a devoted husband to his wife Irene for 63 years, a devoted father to his daughter, Katy Vandygriff and her husband, Cecil and son, Gage Kent and his wife, Mary, all of Muscatine; and an attentive grandfather to his grandchildren, Molly Vandygriff Boyer and husband, Josh, Stephanie Vandygriff, Jimmy Kent, Emma Kent, Megan Sweere, Brynn Sweere, Emma Sweere and Benjamin Sweere; and great grandchildren, Anna, Ava, Ella and Era Boyer.  Also surviving is a brother, Harold L. Kent and wife, JoAnn of Tampa, Fla.

When asked for his secret to success and happiness, Mr. Kent was quick to offer, "A strong faith in God and the blessings and wisdom that can come from a consistent prayerful relationship with Him."

Known to his acquaintances and co-workers as the thoughtful asker of the key unanswered questions, James H. Kent devoted his life to the betterment of his family and to all who work, study and live in the great state of Iowa.

Mr. Kent was preceded in death by his parents.