Kent Pelton, 63, of Watford City, N.D., passed away at the University of Minnesota Medical Center on Monday, Dec. 7, 2015.
Kent’s roots went deep in western North Dakota. He was born on Jan. 15, 1952, in Dickinson, N.D. He was raised at the Shady Bend Farm located on the Green River northeast of Dickinson. His parents, Gene and Florence (McQuay) Pelton, had a dairy farm and Kent learned the value of hard work early in his life. He was the youngest of six children to be raised on the farm, which was established in 1886.
He went to Versippi School from kindergarten through 6th grade. He then went to Dickinson for junior and high school, graduating from Dickinson High School in 1970.
Kent graduated from North Dakota State University in 1974 with a degree in Agricultural Education. He began his teaching career that fall at Westhope High School. He returned home after that year to run the farm while his dad took a job with the State Dairy Association.
It was God’s plan for Kent to be back in Dickinson that year for it was there at a Bible study that he met JoLynn Lupo.
Kent and JoLynn met in the summer of 1975 and were engaged on Halloween. Kent sold four pigs to buy JoLynn’s ring, and pigs went high that year. Kent and JoLynn were married on Feb. 27, 1976. Their love was instant and lasting, an inspiration to their family and friends.
Kent and JoLynn moved to Fargo where Kent began his pursuit of his master’s degree at NDSU. After just two quarters of school he was hired over the phone by Eric Arntson to teach VoAg at Watford City High School.
Kent and JoLynn moved to Watford City in the fall of 1976; their plan was to stay for three years. They have been here ever since. Except for a couple of years when Kent left teaching to work as the county extension agent and in business, he could be found in the VoAg rooms at Watford City High School until he retired from teaching in 2009.
Kent’s influence grew and flowered in so many ways in his almost 64 years. First and foremost, he was a loving husband and father. Kent and JoLynn’s boys - Aaron born in 1977, and Marco, born in 1982 - were his pride and joy. He followed their sports, their work in FFA, and he fostered their love of Vikings and NDSU football. Aaron didn’t follow his dad in baseball. Kent and his parents loved the Twins, while Aaron followed the Cubs.
When Aaron met and married Angie Boudreau, Kent gained a daughter, and later he was in heaven when Aaron and Angie made him a Grandpa. Aidan, nine, became Kent’s shadow and Kent’s influence can already be seen. Avery, six, had him wrapped around her little finger from the time he first held her.
Kent got the daughter he always wanted when they hosted Marianne (Smith) Milligan from Scotland as a foreign exchange student. She left a year later a beloved daughter.
Dustin Norby joined the Pelton family for three years and became another son to Kent and JoLynn.
Kent was a teacher and mentor. He loved his “good kids” in his classes and FFA. He taught his kids parliamentary procedure, how to identify trees and bushes and how to properly trim them; how to cut up a beef or deer and make delicious jerky and sausage. But most of all he taught them to respect the land and its creatures, to honor God and love and respect each other. Kent’s genuine love and concern for his students, his fellow teachers and all the staff at WCHS was an inspiration to all he came into contact with. And he made the best coffee in the school.
When Kent retired from teaching he wasn’t ready to quit working. He tried his hand at an office job, a trust officer at First International Bank & Trust for one-and-a-half years. He then began what he would love as his second career. He became a landman for First Empire Oil now known as QEP. He loved visiting with the farmers and landowners and especially bringing them a check.
Kent’s presence can be seen in the town he loved. He served on the Watford City Park Board from 1992 - 2000. In 2000 he was elected to the City Council and served there for six years until he was elected Mayor in 2006. He loved serving as Mayor for four years. He started serving on the JDA in 2000 and was still working on that board.
Kent was so proud of the Main Street project and the trees as well as the new Visitors’ Center, the children’s Park and the fishing pond. Kent loved that his town was proactive about keeping the city viable and a good place for families even before the Bakken oil discovery.
Kent was a member of the Watford City Lions Club for 39 years. He taught Hunter Safety for over 30 years and was an active member of the First Lutheran Church since he and JoLynn moved here. One of his greatest pleasures was serving as Usher with the help of his grandson Aidan.
Kent loved his trees and his garden. Many people shared the bounty of his garden and the fruits of his canned tomatoes and pickles. He also loved feeding the birds both here and at their home in Arizona. Kent loved going to the lake with his family and friends and he found true joy in the home he and JoLynn bought in Queen Creek, Ariz. Kent’s new love was cacti. It was a whole new type of plant to learn and share.
Kent and JoLynn began traveling when he retired and their first big trip was to Scotland for Marianne’s wedding to Billy. They continued to travel with friends and family. He also loved family reunions with cousins and brothers and sisters. He was the favorite uncle for all his nieces and nephews, and never missed an important event in their lives.
He is survived by his wife, JoLynn; his son, Aaron and daughter-in-law, Angie; and his two grandchildren, Aidan and Avery; his son, Marco and his girlfriend, Alissa Hall; two special children, Marianne (Billy) Milligan and Dustin Norby; his brothers, Ray (Mary Helen) Pelton and Roger (Arlene) Pelton; his sisters, Jeri Senger and Ginger (Keith) Trzynka; his brother-in-law, Dan Lupo; and his sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Doug and Lori Nordby; many beloved nieces and nephews; and countless special friends.
Kent was preceded in death by his parents, Gene and Florence; his beloved Aunt, Ethel; his brother, Lowell; a nephew, Lowell Jr; and his father-in-law and mother-in-law, Joe and Virginia Lupo.
Kent’s great heart loved sharing all he loved with all the people who came into his life as family, students, co-workers and friends. We find shelter under that love which was a true reflection of the God who Kent devotedly followed in word and deed.
Cremation has taken place. His