Rev. Wallace Kent was the pastor of Frankfort.
That’s how many remember the 76-year-old retired pastor who died Tuesday at Central Baptist Hospital in Lexington from lung problems.
Kent was the pastor at Crestwood Baptist Church for 38 years, a member of the Frankfort Rotary Club and a board member for the Senior Activity Center. Since retirement from Crestwood in 2009, he’s worked part time as the minister to senior adults at Buck Run Baptist Church,
“Everybody knew Wallace Kent, and I thought that (position) would be perfect,” Hershael York, senior pastor at Buck Run, said. “He just had a heart for people.”
Friends and family say Kent was a people person and loved finding and making connections between people. He never met a stranger.
York said he even watched Kent try to find a connection with street vendors in Jerusalem on a trip a couple years ago. He said it was something he’ll never forget.
“He always wanted to know their story and he’d always make a connection,” Alison Cuentas, one of Kent’s six children, said. “He just loved people.”
Kent frequently met people through the church, visiting people in hospitals or during his McDonald’s trips. Kent loved McDonald’s.
Cuentas said there was a group of people who would meet at McDonald’s on Versailles Road every morning for senior coffees.
“They were worse than a bunch of women,” Cuentas said while laughing about the group’s gossiping habits. “They took over McDonald’s a while ago.”
It wasn’t unusual to see Kent at the door before it opened at 6 a.m.
“He was there bright and early,” Cuentas said.
Kent was also known for his frequent trips to hospitals in the area. Regardless of a person’s religion, if he knew them or was asked by someone he knew to visit this person, he would be there praying for them.
Diane Dominick, patient care advocate and volunteer director for Frankfort Regional Medical Center, said Kent was there every day visiting patients.
“The thing about Wallace is that he was always open to helping anyone,” Dominick said. “I think he really enjoyed his hospital visits.”
She said he even got to know staff members, who will also miss seeing him.
“I’ve never heard him say a bad word about anybody, even politicians,” said David Cobb, who knew Kent through Crestwood and Rotary Club.
Former Kentucky Supreme Court Chief Justice John Palmore also knew Kent through Rotary Club. They were members together for more than 25 years.
“In all those years I don’t think I’ve know anybody that is any more likable than Wallace Kent,” Palmore said. “He had a wonderful personality.”
Kent also enjoyed playing jokes on people and pulling pranks.
“He had a great sense of humor,” Cobb said. “Not the best joke-teller in the world, but he had a hearty laugh.”
Barry Holder Jr., who met Kent when his family moved here when he was young, said he would remember Kent’s joking side and his genuine care for people in the community.
When Holder’s family moved here, he said they didn’t know anyone, but Kent welcomed them with open arms.
“I would consider him to be like a second father,” Holder said. “We had that close of a relationship.”
Kent was also the kind of guy that didn’t want attention. Two years ago when he and his wife, Bettye Zoe Kent, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, he didn’t want a party.
“He said he would love to have an appreciation dinner for all the people that have blessed him,” York said. “That’s who he was. He didn’t want a fuss made over him.”
Joy Jeffries, executive director of the Frankfort/Franklin County Tourist and Convention Commission said Kent was frequently at events welcoming people to the area.
“Rev. Wallace Kent was truly like a community pastor,” Jeffries said in a statement. “Anytime we had something going on in Frankfort where there was opportunity for the faith community to ‘welcome’ people to Frankfort, he was there.”
Cobb said Kent went to every event he could, from Expos to any church event, even those of different denominations.
“I doubt if there’s a church in this city that he hasn’t been in,” Cobb said.
Visitation for Kent will be 2 to 8 p.m. Friday at Crestwood Baptist Church and 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at Buck Run Baptist Church. Services will be at 1 p.m. Saturday at Buck Run.
York, along with Rev. Tim Frank, will officiate at the funeral.
York said even though he was close to Kent, officiating won’t be difficult.
“This is really cause for a celebration, and this is what Wallace preached his whole life,” York said. “There’s a part of me that is very happy to be able to pay tribute to a life lived that well.”