Monterey – Frederick G. Kent, age 95, died on August 27, 2013, in the company of friends, at Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula.|
Frederick was born on February 6, 1918 in Prague, Czechoslovakia. Excelling in academics from an early age, in 1937, he was awarded a full scholarship to attend a summer session at City of London College. After finishing his three-month term, he traveled throughout England and went on to visit relatives in the United States. It was during this time, getting to know his Wisconsin relatives and two months touring the eastern half of the United States with his uncle, that Frederick got a taste of the American way of life, and the possibility of a future in this country.
He returned to Prague and in the spring of 1938, he completed his secondary education with honors. He went on to Charles University in Prague to study Law and Political Science. His studies were interrupted when the University was forcibly closed in 1939, when Hitler's forces occupied Czechoslovakia.
Because of his time in America, fluency in English and another scholarship letter to study in America, he was closely watched, his documents were confiscated and his family threatened to be sent to a Concentration Camp, should he disappear. To maintain the appearance of compliance, he worked as a manual laborer in a factory while secretly teaching English and giving lectures on the American way of life.
During the Czechoslovak, anti-Nazi uprising in May of 1945, Frederick served as an English language announcer at the Prague Broadcasting Station. Shortly thereafter, Charles University opened and he was able to return to his studies, and complete his Juris Doctorate.
With the help of friends, he was able to flee during communist rule and escape to America. He was granted a full scholarship to Northwestern University in Illinois, and in 1950 he completed his Master's Degree in Political Science. He became an instructor at Northern Illinois University where he remained for 28 years, retiring as a tenured associate professor. In 1962, his father died back home, and Frederick became determined to find a way to get his mother and sister to America. He succeeded in getting his mother to the States in 1963, and his sister, Marie in 1966. With the large Czech community in Illinois, the Czechoslovak National Council was strong, and Frederick and Marie were both actively involved in the organization. Frederick applied for a teaching position at the Defense Language Institute, and was accepted in 1981. The family relocated to Monterey, and made it their permanent home. During Frederick's 12 years with DLI, he taught Czech Language and served as part of a writing team which created the New Czech Basic Course. He tutored students privately and remained active as a lecturer and guest speaker long after he retired.
Frederick traveled extensively throughout his life and in retirement, almost completed his dream of visiting all 50 of the United States; only Hawaii eluded him. Frederick's appetite for learning, teaching and social interaction remained with him through the end of his life. He read the daily paper, New York Times, several Czech publications, political and medical journals and discussed what he read with his friends.
Frederick met people from many walks of life and made an impression where ever he went. The bus drivers got to know him very well. He was fearless, went where ever he wanted to go, and never thought of himself as old. Most of us knew him as Dr. Kent, but even those who didn't know him by name, knew of the well dressed, little man in a tweed hat and taps on his shoes.
Even after an illness and hospital stay early this year, he embraced his move to Sunrise of Monterey by making friends and conducting a morning exercise class. He was an active member of The Church of the Wayfarer for many years and a prominent participant in the I-Help dinners for the homeless. He was known to go to Costco on the bus to bring back bags full of roasted chickens to the event.
Frederick, who was a great lover of music all his life, eventually lost his hearing. Long after the sound was gone, he still enjoyed watching music being performed, especially by the young. In his honor, there is fund in his name at the Church of the Wayfarer to help develop music programs for children.
Frederick was predeceased by his parents and sister, Marie Lang. He is survived by his half sister, Vera Szpukova of the Czech Republic; his niece, Zuzana Kobrova; nephew, Martin Kobr of Switzerland, and many friends both domestic and abroad.
Please join us in remembering this remarkable man on Monday, September 9, 2013 at 2:00 p.m. at the Church of the Wayfarer on Lincoln and 7th in Carmel.
Donations may be made to: The Church of the Wayfarer, Attn: Dr. Frederick G.Kent Memorial Fund, P.O. Box 2205, Carmel, CA 93921.
Published in The Monterey Herald on Sept. 6, 2013