Thursday, March 24, 2005

Kent’s friends gather for memorial

Staff Writer

The life of the late Betsy Kent of Holly Springs was remembered by friends and family at a tree planting in her memory at the Marshall County Library Friday.

Members of the Rust College family where she hosted a radio show for 10 years, her friends from Oxford and the University of Mississippi where she worked, and friends locally told of the joy Kent brought to their lives.

Kent produced a one-hour radio show for WURC-FM at Rust College called “Prime Time Jazz” for eight years and was working on a 13-part series she hoped to air on Public Radio Mississippi, according to Wayne Fiddis Sr., station manager at Rust and friend.

Fiddis said Kent volunteered at the station in order to learn about broadcasting and production.

Tom Brown from Oxford, a long-time friend of Kent, spoke of her relationship with the Oxford community. Kent commuted from Holly Springs to work in admissions at Ole Miss. After retirement at Ole Miss, she had many projects she wanted to do on her own, among which were radio and writing for some well known publications that she kept working on, Brown said.

A recording of one of Kent’s radio shows was played at the tree planting ceremony.

“She was a close friend of mine and my wife, Bonnie, and we cared for her deeply,” said Brown. “She had many, many friends and was a very special person. No doubt she’s leaning against the tree over there enjoying her moment.

“She widened the circle of friends we all have. Through her friendship and illness she brought a lot of people together who will probably be fast friends for life.

“She made our lives a little more enjoyable through her sense of humor. On behalf of all of Betsy’s friends and particularly Sue Ellen Kivelle, who’s done so much to bring this together, we want to say thanks.”

Brown read a short passage written by Kent’s son Rodes Fisburn.

“I know my mother is laughing with delight over all the fuss you are making over her,” Fisburn wrote.

Audubon Mississippi Director Madge Lindsey, who knew Kent through her interest in nature and Strawberry Plains Audubon in Holly Springs, said Kent was interested in volunteer activities with Audubon.

“Like me, she was from another place and coming here to live,” said Lindsey. “She had big plans to get involved with Strawberry and she loved plants.

“On behalf of Strawberry Plains, celebrating its 100th anniversary, we look forward to working with Sue Ellen to help the community grow through learning about nature and history at Strawberry. We invite everyone to come out to see what we are doing there.”

WURC-FM posted a photo of Kent to honor the memorial service held in her honor at Kate Freeman Clark Art Gallery Saturday, Jan. 29, 2005.

“Ms. Kent volunteered over several years at the Rust College public radio during which she enlivened the spirit and mood of her listening audience with a variety of jazz music, ranging from classical and traditional to the big band and contemporary genre. Her smooth and velvety voice will surely be missed,” WURC wrote.

Attending from Rust College were Fiddis, Debayo Moyo, general manager and director of Mass Communications and Ishmell Edwards, vice president.

Friends were invited for cookies and coffee and recorded music by Rust College A’cappella Choir after the installation of the black gum tree in Kent’s honor.

“The award-winning choir was a particular favorite of Ms. Kent,” wrote Kent’s friends, the Marshall County Library, Strawberry Plains Audubon Center and Holly Springs City Beautiful. “Betsy Kent would be very honored to know that her presence in our community helped to spur the joining of our hands on this day, for this occasion. Hopefully this tree will inspire others to want to help revitalize and beautify the community of Holly Springs which she loved so dearly.

“We would like to thank all of you who donated your energy and money as we came together to honor the memory of our friend Betsy.”

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