Kent VanHoesen, 67, of Lawrence, KS passed away on March 29 at Lawence Memorial Hospital from complications from COPD.
Kent considered his greatest blessings to be his many wonderful friendships and his beloved son, Liam.
His parents, Charles and Maxine, had two sons: Kent and his brother Richard. He spent his childhood in Tulsa, OK. His most cherished childhood memories were centered around canoeing with his father and he maintained this passion throughout his life. His three immediate family members preceded him in death long ago.
After high school graduation, Kent spent a year in college and, sensing the long shadow of the draft, joined the Navy. He was sent to a posting in Vietnam where he worked as a photographer for a couple of years and where he first polished his skill as a photographer.
Back in the States, he followed a friend to Lawrence so that she could attend KU. Before long, Kent was enrolled there as well, earning degrees in both photojournalism and anthropology. Excellence as a photographer landed Kent a job at the Lawrence Journal World, where he worked with his good friend Richard Gwin until the early Eighties.
Never one to stay long in any profession, Kent began hiring himself out as a carpenter so he could learn the skills necessary to build his own house one day. That opportunity came his way in the late Eighties, when he built for himself by hand a lovely home right off the eastern leg of the levy in North Lawrence.
Soon thereafter he met and fell in love with Lawrence sculptor/jeweler Shellie Bender. Kent sold his house and moved in with Shellie, where they rehabbed her house and built a two story building for his canoes and her studio.
Kent and Shellie married in 1991 and became a dynamic team in all aspects of their lives. Shellie applied for and received several large sculptural commissions and Kent played a key role in solving and working through all aspects of these. He also became her studio photographer, creating masterful photographs that happened to be of jewelry.
Kent returned to college, completing an MBA at Baker University at night. Subsequently he created Radius Systems Integration, a high tech home automation company with expertise in home theater, heating and cooling and lighting. His forte was in lighting systems design. Radius operated in the Kansas City and Ft. Smith Arkansas markets, and his company was a leader for its time.
Kent and Shellie agreed that the adoption of their newborn baby Liam, on the millennium, was the most amazing of their collaborations.
By the early Nineties there wasn’t much Kent couldn’t do. He was a master problem solver, always willing and able to help friends with their nonfunctioning sump pump or to carry an electrical line to that unused back room in the basement.
His friends will dearly miss Kent’s yummy gumbo, his oh-so-fine photographs — both of nature (he loved to canoe) – and of people. He thought his lifelong interest in anthropology often informed his photographs, and his curiosity and inventiveness brought him eventually to the art of cooking, most famously gumbo.
Come celebrate Kent’s life with friends over a bowl of gumbo (his recipe) from 4-6pm on Sunday April 12th at 1520 Alvamar Dr, Lawrence. A selection of Kent’s framed photos will be available for silent auction at that time.
At 6pm we will form a caravan to drive out to the Perry/Lecompton Bridge where we will fling Kent’s ashes, per his wishes, into his beloved Kaw.
May flights of canoes filled with friends and loves sing Kent to his rest.