Kent Alfred Johnson died peacefully in his home on November 30 with his wife at his side.
Kent was born on March 14, 1927 in New Milford, Connecticut. Son of Victor Johnson and Bertha Carlson Johnson, late of Grayslake, Illinois. He lived in many places, but considered New Milford and Grayslake to be his childhood homes. He graduated from Bemus Point High School in New York and Illinois Wesleyan University in 1950.
He enlisted in the armed services, choosing the Navy stating that if he was going to be killed in action, he wanted to die in a clean environment. His tour lasted a year and a half, and he was on a troop train on his way to the west coast when the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. As a Seaman, he spent ten days in a hospital with Scarlet Fever and was frustrated at missing his chance to be deployed because of his illness.
He worked for Proctor & Gamble in sales and was awarded a position in P&G’s management training program, traveling throughout territories in New York State. Kent was about to be transferred into a position in Cincinnati when he met the beguiling Margaret Heinchon on the Dutcher Golf Course in Pawling. The farmer’s daughter accepted the proposal of the traveling salesman and he lived across the street from where they met until his death.
When first married, Kent lived near his sales territory and rented an apartment from Herb Hamberger in Hamburg, New York, a fact he chuckled at even late in life. Deciding to forego the nomadic life of a salesman for a more family-oriented career, he accepted his father-in-law’s–Daniel Heinchon’s–offer and became President of Heinchon Dairy, putting down roots that would keep him in one town for the remainder of his life.
Kent loved the beauty of Pawling and devoted much of his life to keeping it beautiful even while the forces of growth and change threatened it. He was on the Pawling Planning Board for 40 years, 17 of those as Chairman. Kent championed planned growth, open space, and protecting view sheds long before those terms became commonplace. He received numerous citations and awards for his planning acumen and vision. Among his awards was the prestigious Heissenbuttel Award for Planning Excellence given by the New York Planning Federation of the Assembly of New York in Albany. Pawling will remain a beautiful town for many generations because of him.
He loved tennis and golf, but many suspect he engaged in those activities only as a prelude to cocktail hour.
Family was more important to Kent than any citation and being a husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather were his greatest joys. Kent is survived by his wife of 65 years Margaret Heinchon Johnson of Pawling, Libby Johnson Laramie of Castleton, Vermont and Libby’s son Devin; Chris Johnson of Pawling, and Chris’ children Garrett Johnson and Danny Johnson of Pawling, and Caroline Johnson of Nyack and Tyler Johnson of Pawling, (along with Tyler’s wife Jennifer Kessman Johnson their daughter, Penelope; and Connie Johnson Hambley of Boston, Massachusetts, (with husband Scott Hambley) and their Chase, Ryder, and Skylar Hambley of Rowley, Massachusetts. He is pre-deceased by one grandson, Andrew Laramie of Castleton, Vermont, and his sister and brother, Midge and Robert Johnson of Grayslake, Illinois.
Kent loved the outdoors. Walking in his fields with a dog, canoeing on Quaker Lake, or enjoying a sunset overlooking the Inter coastal waterway in Flagler Beach, Florida. Kent will be missed for his sense of humor, commitment to family, and love of the simple things life offered him.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Pawling Resource Center or Covenant House in New York City.
Calling hours are Sunday, December 3rd from 2:00 to 5:00 at Horn & Thomes, Inc. Funeral Home, 83 East Main Street, Pawling. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10 AM on Monday, December 4th. Burial is private.