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John S. Kent, '67, 1948-2021
The Santa Cruz Sentinel


John Simonds Kent

December 14, 1948 - December 1, 2021



John S. Kent died suddenly on Dec. 1 at his home in Aptos. He was just short of has 73rd birthday. John was born December 14, 1948 in Los Palos Verdes, CA, but grew up in Fullerton, CA. He went to Sunny Hills High School where he was part of the league winning water polo and swim teams.


Living in Southern California with the ocean nearby, he learned to surf, and he and his father built his first surfboard together. 


John loved science, studying nature and insects. So much so, that on a Boy Scout hike, he got left behind when looking at interesting bugs, and it took 3 hours for them to find him. He became an amateur entomologist collecting over 500 butterfly and insect specimens which were donated to a southern California museum.


After high school graduation, John enrolled in Fullerton Junior College where he completed an Associates Degree in Marine Biology. He then was accepted to UC Irvine where he got a BS degree in Biology with a minor in Biochemical Engineering. 


John was also an artist and in his early years did some interesting drawings and paintings including a very detailed pen and ink etching on a surfboard which was laminated and then sold. 


John moved to Santa Cruz in 1975 and became a regular volunteer at the Community Switchboard for several years. In Santa Cruz he followed his passion of surfing particularly at Steamer's Lane. At the same time, he was a chemist for Soil Control Lab in Watsonville. 


He met his wife, Susan, in 1981. They married in 1983 and their daughter, Kimberly was born in 1984. He was a great father, happily building cushion forts, reading with her, and building two tree houses. They learned to ski together, and then both learned to snow board, while mom, Susan kept skiing. 


Kimberly got interested in rock climbing and got her father to go to Pacific Edge gym, where they learned rock climbing skills and then finally convinced, mom, Susan, to join. As a family they rock climbed both inside and outside in places like the Pinnacles, Lover's Leap, and DAF Dome in Yosemite. Later, John and several friends climbed Snake Dike on Half Dome in Yosemite.

John also shared some special surfing vacation trips with his long-time friend, Rick Wilson, where they surfed the Maldives and Fiji. 


John became interested in computers, built a couple of small ones and taught himself various programming languages. He switched careers and worked as a software engineer for 20 years. 


John also pursued a hobby in astronomy and astronomical photography and travelled to Hawaii in 1992 to photograph the solar eclipse. 


John was also a wonderful neighbor, helping clear debris from the road, monitoring and help maintaining the well equipment, organizing repaving two private roads and always available with a smile and something witty or scientific to say in conversation while helping out. He carried those attributes when he regularly walked his dog, Mika, at the Aptos dog park, and got to know many of the morning regulars there. 


He is survived by his wife, Susan Kent, daughter Kimberly Kent, niece, Sally Kent and cousins, Paul, Dana, Helen, and Kevin Kent. A memorial service will be planned sometime in late February or March. If you would like to be notified of the memorial service, please email: 




See a 1970 photo of John. Click:



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Rod Handsfield, MD. '67 on February 24, 2022 at 1:51 PM said:

John was a great guy. I just saw that he had passed. He was one of the first genuine surfers at SH. Never a Hoe Dad or a Gremmie. The real deal. John and his dad built his first surfboard in the garage. He became very adept at shaping and glassing boards in his own right. It is sobering that we are of the age where it can end so abruptly.

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