Robert A. “Bob” Kent died peacefully and surrounded by his family on Saturday, Feb. 6, 2021, in Sylva, N.C., after more than a decade of living with Parkinson’s disease.
Bob was born in Century, Fla., on Sept. 7, 1944, and grew up on the family farm in Jay, Fla. Graduating from Jay High School in 1961, he attended Pensacola Junior College, and then earned his degree in economics at Auburn University, followed by a masters in business administration. He stayed at Auburn to teach economics in the late 1960s.
His post-academic career began in banking, first in Atlanta, Ga., and then Birmingham, Ala. In 1978 he returned to Florida, opening a construction and party equipment rental business in Pensacola that would eventually become known as Kent’s Rental. His career in the equipment rental industry eventually led to another career as a business broker and equipment appraiser, the professions where he spent the last years of his working career. Bob was a fixture in the Pensacola business community and the equipment rental industry for more than 30 years. His legacy can be seen in the many small companies that benefited from his involvement, support and generosity.
Bob was an active member of Rotary International for more than 40 years, and was named a Paul Harris Fellow. He served as the president of Pensacola North Rotary Club from 2003-04, and also served on several local non-profit boards, including the Salvation Army and Habitat for Humanity. He was an avid reader, with particular fondness for westerns, spy novels and American history. He was also a lifelong aviation enthusiast, first soloing a single engine aircraft when he was 16 and then returning to aviation midlife to complete his private pilot and instrument ratings. He shared his love of flying with his children, encouraging them both to become private pilots themselves.
He was preceded in death by his father, Julian Percy Kent; his mother, Ruby Cofield Kent; his brother, Rex; and two infant siblings.
He is survived by two sisters, Kathryn Kent Miller (Joe) of Pensacola and Elizabeth Jeanette Kent of Asheville, N.C.; his brother, Alonza Lee Kent (Janice) of Pace, Fla.; his beloved wife, best friend and partner of more than 48 years, Martha McCaskill Kent; his son, Robert Andrew Kent Jr. (Kerri) of Tampa, Fla.; his daughter, Dr. Jessica Kent Ange (Allan) of Sylva, N.C.; and his cherished grandsons, Eason Daniel Ange, Robert Andrew Kent III, William Russell Kent and Walton Thomas Kent.
The family would like to thank the staff at Harris Regional Hospital and Four Seasons Hospice for the wonderful care at the end of his life.
In lieu of flowers the family would appreciate a donation in remembrance of Bob to the Rotary International Foundation, to St. John’s Episcopal Church in Sylva, N.C., or to Four Seasons Hospice in Hendersonville, N.C.
Memorial services in Sylva and Pensacola will be planned once gatherings are safer.