Sunday, October 19, 2014

Happy Birthday, Mom!
Martha A. Kent:
The Arc of a Life

Today would be my Mother's 92nd Birthday.
I first ran this post after my Mom's death in June 2010. It remains one of this blog's most popular postings; I still get at least three hits a day on it. Happy Birthday Day, Mama. You are missed.

It is short. Simple. And will take up but a few column inches in the newspaper.

But it means the world.

Martha Ann Kent
News Death Notice

KENT, Martha Ann formerly of Detroit, MI, Minneapolis, MN and Miamisburg, OH, passed away on Tuesday, June 29, 2010 at Sycamore Glen Health Center. Martha was born on October 19, 1922 in Detroit Michigan to the late Frank and Loretta (Dueweke) Remski. In addition to her parents, Martha is preceded in death by her husband, Major William J. Kent and by her sister, Jane DeCosmo. Survivors include her children, William Kent Jr. (Gayle Gyure), Mark Kent, Gerald Kent (Christine), Raphaelle Tamura (Michael), Cecilia Wendler (Tom Johnson), Brian Kent (Linda), John Kent (Susan), Richard Kent (Patricia), Eileen Kent (Ed Stevens); her grandchildren, Thomas, Caroline, Mario, Nicholas, Gregory, Zachary, Andrew, Stephen, Daniel, Jennifer, Abigail, William, Paul and Philip; her brothers and sisters, Helen Cassidy, John Remski (Therese), Mary Rose Carey, Pauline LeTarte (Edward), William Remski (Florence), Frank Remski (Helen), Richard Remski (Julianne), David Remski (Jill) and other loving relatives and friends. Martha attended Marygrove College in Detroit. Before opening her own video production company, Kent Creative Communications, she was a communications and video executive at J.L. Hudson, Bendix Corporation, and Sidney A. Lutz and Associates. Martha was widely recognized in her career by both the Detroit Chapter of the International Television and Video Association (ITVA) and Detroit Producers Association. She was a member of St. Gertrude Catholic Church in St. Clair Shores, Michigan. The family will receive friends and relatives on Monday July 5, 2010 at the ROY J. KAUL FUNERAL HOME, St. Clair Shores from 3:00 to 9:00 PM, with prayers at 7:00 PM. A Mass of Catholic Burial will be on July 6, 2010 at St. Gertrude Catholic Church in St. Clair Shores, Michigan, beginning with a final pre-gathering at 9:30 AM and Holy Mass at 10:00 AM. The Mass will be immediately followed by graveside internment at Holy Sepulcher Cemetery, 35800 W. Ten Mile Rd, Detroit, Mi. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in Martha’s name to Sycamore Glen Health Center, 2175 Leiter Road, Miamisburg, Ohio 45342.
What an extraordinary woman she was. You can see the arc of her life in the photographs that follow.

You know, there is no 'in the beginning,' just a continuation: "When LAST we left our heroes...."

It was the year 1910. (A very good year.) A ten year old girl named Loretta Dueweke, the youngest of 13 children, was having her first communion. At about the same time, in another parish, Frank Remski, aged 14, was also celebrating his.

In the days that followed the end of the first World War, they met and fell in love.

Wedding Picture of Frank Russell Remski and Loretta Marie Therese Catherine Dueweke, August 16, 1921.

"In the front row was Best Man Thomas Remski; Groom Frank Remski, Bride Loretta Remski, and her sister Rose Duweke Manquen. In the back row was Matron of Honor Irene Dueweke Steinhoff, Dan McDonald, Albert Dueweke, Mary Remski Allison. The wedding took place at Annunciation Parish in Detroit." - MAK, typewritten note, ca. 1985

And in their love they produced their first of ten children, a daughter, Martha Ann Remski, born October 19, 1922.

The Duewekes were a large clan, the largest in Detroit at the time. This picture was taken in 1930.

"This picture was taken at a Family Reunion at Chandler Park, on Detroit's East Side. It includes all my mother's brothers and sisters and their spouses andchildren, as well as my grandfather, Louis Dueweke [who died in 1939]. "Grampa" is the bow tied gentleman on the far left in the front of the picture; I am fifth from the right, between my brother John (rubbing his eyes) and Mary Rose (facing backward).

"This picture was subsequently submitted to a Detroit News contents looking for the "largest family in Detroit" ... and it won. Our prize was for all of use to be picked up by cab and taken to the Michigan Theatre downtown, where we saw the first talkie version of "Tom Sawyer." The picture was also published in the Annunciation Parish paper in the year of Msgr. Stapleton's Jubilee Year, 1931." - MAK, typewritten note, ca. 1985

A closeup of Mom from the picture above.

Martha learned the love of books under Frank and Loretta's guiding hand; she also was guided at her school by her namesake, Martha Helen Remski, then known as Sister Marie Fidelis, I.H.M. All were loving but uncompromising teachers.

This picture was taken when she was about seventeen, in 1939 or so.
As she grew she blossomed in beauty....

....and grew in knowledge. Her high school graduation photograph, 1940.
She went on to study at Marygrove College in Detroit.

As the clouds of war gathered overseas, business opportunities opened for women here at home. At the time this picture was taken, she had started her career at Hudson's, which ended in 1946 with her as Hudson's senior advertising exec.

Here she is standing with her mother, Loretta, and her younger sister, Janie, who was about 13 years old (note the cut of Janie's blouse--a modified military cut). This picture was taken around 1945 or so--a color picture, unusual for the time, and likely right after wartime rationing had ended.

About this time, she met a charming young gentleman just out of the Army Air Corps, who called himself Bill.... William J. Kent, Sr.

Mom's engagement picture. Mom and Dad were married in 1946.

Mom, November 1946, on her honeymoon, a glamor shot at the top of the Empire State Building.

Mom as Dad saw her. This had rather dramatic demographic effects.....

(Cecilia and Raphaelle.)
As the family grew.....

(Mom & Dad; Mark, Cecilia, Jerry, Raphaelle, Bill.)
...and grew....

(Jerry, Mark, Bill; Brian, John, Raphaelle, Me, Mom, Eileen, Dad, Cecilia.)
...and grew. This picture was taken on June 6, 1966, the day my Dad retired from the Air Force. (I'm the one kicking his heels up.)

(Brian, Jerry, Mark, Bill; John, Raphaelle, Me, Mom, Dad, Eileen, Cecilia.)
Eventually the family stopped growing larger and we all started, well, growing older. This picture was taken in June 1980, when Brian and John (on the far left) graduated from Michigan State University and I (mustachioed and sitting on the ground) graduated from Lakeview High School.

Mom enjoyed her middle years immensely. Here she sits on Bicentennial Day, July 4, 1976, with her sisters in law Pat (Mary Ann Whelan Kent) to her left and with Ginnie (Virginia Potts Kent), standing. Aunt Pat died in the 1980s. Aunt Ginnie died only three weeks before Mom did, and only two days before our Uncle Pat O'Brien, who was the other living Greatest Generation Kent.

(Birth order: Bill, Mark, Jerry, Raphaelle, Cecilia, Brian, John, Me, Eileen; Mom in Front)
But time moves on. This is Mom and the Nine at Dad's funeral in 1991....

(Mark, Michael Tamura, John, Robert Wendler, Trish, moi, Bill, Brian, Jerry; Eileen, Raphaelle, JP's Abigail, Susan, Cecilia, Cecilia's Andy, Mom, Anne,Bill's Caroline, Linda, Brian's Daniel, Brian's Steven; on floor: JP's Jennifer, Cecilia's Zach, and Bill's Thomas.)
....and at a happier occasion, my wedding, in 1993. All 8 of the then-living direct grandkids are in this pic; missing are Jerry's Mario, and Raphaelle's Nicholas and Gregory. (Later we'd gain three more, my sons Will, Paul and Philip. As you can see, the family, uh, started growing again....)

Mama enjoyed much travel before conditions changed. Here she is in 1992 or so.

But Mom was bound and determined to have a joyful time, which she usually did. Here she dances with Cecilia at Eileen's wedding in 2006.

Eileen took care of her in her final days...

And here Mom receives her precious Mary statue back in one piece a few weeks ago.

Mama entered into the new life on June 29, 2010, shortly before one o'clock in the morning. She was the matriarch of both the Kent and Remski families.

These pictures by no means sum up this remarkable woman's life. But her vibrancy and strength can be shown even in her final pictures.

Now THIS is how a life should be led. God love you, Mama, and watch over us as we come to join you in the days ahead.

With love,

Your son,


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