starks logo
Thomas  Kent

Thomas P. Kent

November 15th, 1936 - March 16th, 2023

Thomas's Obituary

Thomas P. Kent, of Buchanan, Michigan died Thursday, March 16, 2023 at Lakeland Hospital in Niles, Michigan. He was 86.
The cause was attributed to complications of congestive heart failure.

Tom was with Procter & Gamble for 30 years. He began his career with the company in Jackson, Michigan, followed by brief assignments in Detroit and Lexington, Kentucky before being transferred to Fort Wayne, Indiana, where he worked as a sales manager from 1966 until his retirement in 1991. In addition to his sales position with P&G, he also helped recruit new talent from various universities in the Midwest and train younger sales staff. Tom was deeply committed to his role at P&G and was successful in growing the firm’s business in the region.

Thomas Parkin Kent was born November 15, 1936 at Pawating Hospital in Niles to Clarence D. Kent, a bookkeeper and later auto dealer, and Leta M. (Boyer) Kent, a homemaker. Tom grew up in Buchanan, first attending a one-room schoolhouse, then later graduating from Buchanan High School in 1954. In 1958 he graduated from Michigan State University, majoring in economics. At Michigan State he was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon. He remained active with the fraternity throughout his life and stayed close to many of his friends there. His father’s unexpected death in November 1958 delayed the start of his required service in the military until 1959. He then served two years in the Army and was honorably discharged from active service in 1961, followed by service in the Army Reserves.

In 1962, Tom was introduced to Carol Glasgow Merchant, an elementary school teacher in Buchanan. They were married in June 1963. She survives him, along with two sons, Timothy Kent (Catherine Baker) of Chicago, and Christopher Kent (Melissa) of Portland, Oregon. Tom is also survived by a brother, Arnold “Spud” Kent, of Topeka, Kansas, and many nieces and nephews.

In 1998, Tom and Carol returned to live in Buchanan, settling back into the same house— modernized and expanded—along the St. Joseph river where he grew up. They restored natural prairie grasses and wildflowers to a farm field on the property and also repaired the riverbank to reduce erosion and enhance views.

During his retirement he joined the Berrien County Record newspaper in Buchanan, where he worked for more than 20 years as a proofreader and wrote obituaries as well as a weekly column on local history. While at the paper he wrote a series of articles about many of the soldiers from Buchanan that died in the armed forces. He traveled to Europe to visit the gravesites of several, writing about who they were and his experiences there.

An avid reader, Tom had many interests, especially in World War II and American history, but also in subjects that ranged from 1950s English sports cars to birdwatching to Hemingway, among others. He was a devoted runner as well and regularly ran in 5k and 10k races until back problems forced him to give up the sport in the late 1990s.

Tom had a deep interest in music, especially classical music, and studied piano as a child. In high school he played trombone, which honed his appreciation for big band jazz and show tunes. At home he enjoyed playing classical music on the piano, which he did almost daily.
After seeing the movie “The Sting” in 1973, Tom developed a near obsession with the ragtime piano music of composer Scott Joplin. He committed himself to learning the composer’s entire catalog, and he loved to entertain family and visitors alike with his new-found passion.

In later years, Tom and Carol enjoyed traveling and made several trips to Europe. They also spent several weeks each winter in Arizona, where they could briefly escape southwest Michigan’s deep snows and enjoy the desert landscape and ever-changing variety of native birds.

Finally, Tom will certainly be remembered for his spirited sense of humor and his devotion not only to his family, but to his many, many friends, old and new. He maintained close ties to friends from childhood and college, as well as to professional colleagues and new friends from recent years; always, he could be counted on to attend the annual Buckteens reunion at his high school. He was especially fond of his neighbors along the river, many of whom were part of his life for decades.

A memorial celebration of life will be held at 1 pm on Saturday, March 25, 2023, at Swem Chapel, 301 W. Front St., Buchanan. You may join virtually by using the following link, https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86838224041?pwd=UlM1OUpOUUZJSnlpaHlEdFJXdXJaZz09. Visitation will be held one hour prior to the service, from noon – 1 pm and also a time of fellowship and light refreshments following the service from 1:30-3 also at the funeral home. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the American Heart Association or the Humane Society of Southwest Michigan. Those wishing to send a condolence online may do so at www.swemchapel.com.

Memorial Contributions

Please click a link below to make a memorial contribution.

Service Details

View the current service details below. Sign up for email or text updates to receive notifications of any changes to service schedules or important information.

Sign up for schedule updates