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John Peter Kent, 87, of West Chester, Pennsylvania, passed away at Wellington at Hershey’s Mills assisted living facility in West Chester, PA on January 29th, 2019. Peter was born in London, England, on November 5, 1931. He was the only child of Alfred and Lavinia Kent. His mother died soon after his birth, and he lived with his maternal grandparents, Henry and Lavinia Nottage, until his father married Margaret M. Conroy, five years later.
As a child, Peter was an avid boy scout. A city kid, he loved the exposure to nature that camping provided. World War II began in Europe in 1939 when he was eight years old. The Blitz was a daily fact of life when he was nine and ten. At eleven he won a scholarship to the prestigious St. Olave’s and St. Saviour’s Grammar School for Boys. He was proud of being an “Old Olavian” and often spoke fondly of his school days.
After two years in the British Army, rising to the rank of sergeant, he attended the University of Southampton, graduating with a bachelor's degree in English Literature. He traveled to the United States to attend Johns Hopkins University, where he received his master's, and the University of Illinois, where he received his PhD in English. His specialty was 18th Century English Literature. He eventually became a U.S. citizen.
While he was teaching English at a French boys’ school, Peter met an American librarian, Joann G. Roberts, while she was working at Braccone Army Depot, near Angouleme. They married in London in 1957.
Peter’s love for literature and teaching formed the basis of a 30+ year career as a university professor. He taught for seven years at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. A daughter, Melissa, was born there in 1969. In 1972, the family moved to Exton, Pennsylvania, where Peter began a long career at West Chester State College, later West Chester University. He retired in 2001
Peter loved eating oysters and drinking wine, sitting around a campfire and singing raunchy songs, playing squash with his friend Mike Peich, hiking the Appalachian Trail, sailing in deep water. In his later years, Peter and Joann traveled extensively. He took courses in Celestial Navigation and Italian. He was the faithful walker and companion of several setters: Sally, Tessie, Britta, and Aggie. He was the best dad in the world.
Peter is survived by his wife Joann Kent of West Chester, PA.; daughter Melissa (Wayne) Simms of Montgomery, Alabama, and granddaughter Leah E. Simms of Montgomery, Alabama.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Neighborhood Hospice, 400 E. Marshall St. West Chester, PA, 19380
Service and Internment are private.
Penn Hospice (Neighborhood)
400 E. Marshall Street, West Chester PA 19380