Services will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021, at 2 p.m. at First Baptist Church in Pampa with Rev. Dr. Jerry R. Lane, pastor of Community Crossroads Church in White Deer, officiating. Burial will follow in White Deer Cemetery under the direction of Carmichael-Whatley Funeral Directors.
The service will be livestreamed through the funeral home website.
Kent was born on April 11, 1950 in Pampa. Kent was a life-long resident of White Deer. At a young age, it was apparent that Kent was very intuitive and bright. He was able to repair complicated systems with heavy equipment, build professional-grade livestock trailers from scratch and understood the entire refinery and pipeline business from top to bottom. This was well before he graduated from high school. In fact, he had a certain disdain for formal education at this level. He never said as much, but I suspect he had such an abundance of common sense that he had difficulty relating to the fact that everyone else could “get it” as readily as he could. He even asked that his diploma be sent to him rather than walk the stage at graduation. He was not the type to send out graduation announcements. The irony is that he later served years as President of the school board. Shortly after high school, he was drafted into the United States Army. He served two tours in Vietnam at the height of the war as an 11 Bravo in the 101st Airborne Division. He very seldom said a word to anyone about his experience with the exception that, “he never wanted to go hunting or camping again.”
Shortly after his return, he began dating the love of his life, Vicki Cowan. They have been married 47 years. This became a very arduous time for Kent because he committed almost every waking hour working to make K&K, Inc., a company that has become a preeminent company in the region and in the industry. His great common sense was put to use in this endeavor. It was difficult for him in that things did not always go as smoothly for him as he expected. Those that he worked with had difficulty understanding why he was such a taskmaster, while he had difficulty understanding why things were not clear to others. Because of this, he was definitely a “Type A” personality and even worked harder himself to make sure the job was done correctly.
Fortunately, he learned to hire the right people and to delegate. This change was likely in great part to his sister Kathy and his son Kirk helping him to see that it would be difficult to continue micromanaging every aspect of a growing business. This change helped Kent to become far more loving and allowed him to enjoy life much more. He was able to travel and enjoy more time with family. He went from Type A to “teddy bear.” Everyone that knew Kent knows that he always had a quick wit and could be counted on for anything. Kent was most passionate about community and family. He has served as Mayor of White Deer for many years. He was definitely a “hands on” Mayor. Everything from dog catcher to administrative duties. He initiated an Economic Development plan for White Deer and built a very popular bar and grille, Harrah’s, in a historical building on main street. He said that he wanted to build someplace where families could go eat and commune because he wanted to give kids a reason to stay in White Deer.
Kent was known to be the school bus for the grandkids. He would get them breakfast, take them to school and have a busy day taking care of a variety of civic and business items then pick the kids up. He loved his family dearly, especially the grand kids. They could always count on “Dad Dad.” His constant companion was Dolly, his beloved Springer spaniel.
He is survived by his wife, Vicki; son, Kirk Kelp and his wife Ashley; daughter, Kelly and her husband Kory Hartman all of White Deer; his sister, Kathy and husband Jim Dowd of Canyon; his brother, Kavin Kelp and his wife Lynne of Austin; his beloved grandkids, Kole Hartman, Kolin Hartman, Keenan Hartman, Laney Black, Foster Black, Kash Kelp and Kase Kelp.
Kent Kelp was a great and generous man whose service to country and community cannot be overemphasized. His family is extremely proud of his many accomplishments in life.
Memorials can be made to Community Crossroads Church, PO Box 638 White Deer TX 79097 or Wounded Warrior Project, PO Box 758516 Topeka KS 66675-8516.