Hugh Kent

Mark Blunck checks in with this email:

In our junior year at Lincoln High, I was taking one of many science classes with Mr. Hugh Kent. I thought he was one of the best teachers and taught the most interesting subject matter. I recall science class titles like Ecology and Conservation where we learned about the connections between life and the environment, resource and habitat, and the Earth as a single organism.

During that junior year science class, Mr. Kent made a statement near the end of one session that resonated for many years. He had ended the lecture, looked up at the class and said the following, “I want you to go home tonight, tell your parents how much you appreciate them raising you and thank them for this.” As we all know, teenagers are not exactly the most insightful people and besides, we had other issues to contend with such as – who can we ask out for the weekend and how will we get some beer – the two most critical elements of high school life.

This comment, however, by Mr. Kent burrowed itself into my mind for many years. In August 1985, I moved to San Francisco and shortly before I left Des Moines, I had a conversation with my parents on many subjects. The most important comment I made was to thank them for all their efforts in raising me and the comfort they provided in our home. After 13 years, I finally acted on that request from Mr. Kent.

A few weeks later after arriving in California, I sent a letter to Mr. Kent reminding him of what he had said back in 1972, thanking him for this, and that I had acted on his suggestion. Just a week or two later I received a letter from him and he was so pleased to hear from me. That letter is attached. The last time I saw him was in May of 1986 as I visited him after class and we had a great conversation.

I retrieved this original letter by Mr. Kent a few months ago and sent it to his son Tim Kent who forwarded it to his sister MaryBeth Abdo, in order to obtain permission to post on our website. They both agreed and I thank them for this. This is his actual letter done on a typewriter (with a phrase in red) from those wonderful black/red ribbons. I hope you enjoy this 1985 letter from Mr. Kent. If you were in that class and recall this specific moment, please email me at electionday2020 – at hotmail – dot com. It would be nice to know if anyone else acted on his words. And for those of you who are fortunate to have children, I hope that they have expressed similar thoughts to you.

I want all my classmates to live by the quote from Satchel Paige that he wrote in the second to last paragraph as this is great advice for us all. Mr. Hugh Kent was truly one of the best teachers that ever graced the halls of Lincoln High.

Mark E. Blunck
Hon. AIA Iowa

 

Hugh Kent’s letter to Mark:
October 25, 1985

Dear Mark,

Your letter, dated 10-12-85, posted 10-18-85, arrived in Des Moines yesterday, and if you had any idea how much I appreciated hearing from you—you probably wouldn’t believe it!

I have missed your letters-to-the-editor recently and have wondered what happened, it is good to know that you are in school and have decided on a major area of study.

I remember the day that you mentioned, and also the remark that you referred to in your letter. To know that someone listened, and more importantly, did something about it, is one of those things that makes teaching very much worthwhile! I cannot tell you how much it meant to me that you would take time out from your busy schedule to write and let me know, a simple “thank you” just does not do the job, but I trust you will understand with my limited command of the vocabulary that it just ain’t possible to adequately express how much this meant to me.

The “old pile of bricks” here on Southwest 9th Street is much the same as when you graced our hallways and classrooms, the young people aren’t quite as academically inclined for the most part, and I feel badly about this. The Lincoln football team is doing very well (6-1) and plays Dowling tonight for all the marbles—the Metro title and a place in the state tournament. The one blemish is a loss to Roosevelt (10-8) on a rainy and muddy night at Hutchens Stadium, they have won all of the others and play Newton in the finale a week from tonight. The young men that are representing ALHS this year on the gridiron are an excellent bunch, they have worked extremely hard and are a very close group—I predict a Lincoln victory.

I am still teaching at the Urban Campus a couple nights a week and on Saturday morning, and, during the summer—a super place to work! I see Mr. Alexander often and will be delighted to convery your greeting to him, I know he will appreciate it, he is quite a man.

It was quite a coincidence that you dated your letter on October 12—on that day this gray-haired, fog bound old man turned 60, and your letter certainly helped to make such an “event” less painful. Satchel Paige once said, “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?” I think this is an excellent philosophy as I still feel very much like a kid and probably still act like one.

Thanks again for the letter, and I hope all is going well for you out on the west coast—if and when you get back to the golden buckle on the corn belt, be sure to stop in and visit!

With best regards,

HKent

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2 Responses to “Hugh Kent”

  1. Loretta Says:

    Thanks for getting this posted. The letter from Hugh Kent, makes me do some soul searching and heavy thinking. I need to “Thank” my folks, for at the ages of 80 and 89, I don’t know if I will have the time to wait.

    Thanks, Mark……

  2. Susan Walker Knaack Says:

    Thanks for posting this. Mr Kent was my favorite teacher at Lincoln back in 1980. Your mention of his typed letter brings back great memories of sitting in the back row of his biology class listening to him type away–2 fingers only, and faster than anyone I had seen.
    What a great man–thanks again for sharing your letter.

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