Cover photo for Samuel Sherrill Kent Jr.'s Obituary
Samuel Sherrill Kent Jr. Profile Photo

Samuel Sherrill Kent Jr.

May 11, 1938 — October 5, 2022

Samuel Sherrill Kent Jr.

Samuel Sherrill Kent Jr., 84, of Ivins, Utah and Westmore, Vermont passed away on October 5, 2022 in Burlington, Vermont.  He was born in Hartford, Connecticut on May 11, 1938 to Samuel Sherrill Kent and Iris Holt Allen Kent. 

Samuel spent his early years at his family home on Talcott Notch Rd in Hartford, Connecticut with his brother Edward and sister Elizabeth before leaving home to attend The Taft School; a private boarding school in Watertown, Connecticut. He graduated from Taft in 1956. He went on to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry & Biology in 1961 at Colby College in Maine. Prior to continuing his education at the University of Chicago he worked on research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He earned a Masters in Science and Ph. D in Biochemistry in 1971. From 1971-74 he completed a Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Plant Pathology at Montana State University.

While at the University of Chicago he met and married Norma Ramirez Betancourt with whom he parented his two lovely daughters Heather and Blythe. Their marriage was solemnized in the Salt Lake City Temple. He was also later married for a time to Donna Woerner through which he acquired 5 step-daughters whom he loves very much.   

Sam was passionate about his research in plant physiology, specifically photorespiration, and spent much of his career working as a research professor at the University of Vermont in Biochemistry and photorespiration with the intent of improving crop yield and reducing world hunger. He also taught and worked on his research at the University of Alabama and Brigham Young University. He finished his career developing and directing the new Biotechnology Program at Vermont Technical College.

He received multiple grants and awards from many sources including NATO, USDA, National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. His research in photorespiration resulted in 26 publications in scientific journals. He is best known and most quoted by other researchers for developing an in situ model of photosynthesis to access parameters of Rubisco.

He was a faithful member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and had a powerful testimony of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the Plan of Salvation. He served in many capacities including Bishopric member, Elder’s Quorum President, Stake High Council, Seminary and as a Gospel Doctrine instructor. 

He was both brilliant and talented in multiple ways. He loved classical music and spent hours at his piano perfecting his performance. He also listened to classical music on his stereo at rather high decibels - which may have contributed to some hearing loss. He delighted in the musical talents of his grandchildren and spent much time working with them as children at the piano and encouraging them to practice. He is very proud of them. For him, music, classical music, was a deeply spiritual experience that communed with his very soul. 

He loved and cherished his family. Both of his grandparents had camps on Willoughby Lake from the early 1900s. It is where his parents met and where he spent nearly every summer of his 84 years. He returned to Vermont in 1979, giving up a valuable university position, in order to care for his ailing parents. His family responsibilities were paramount. 

He delighted in being with family and friends gathered at Willoughby. He took his first steps from the fireplace to the porch at his Nan’s camp. He talked of beautiful memories on Nan's porch. 

He worked for the past 35 years to preserve a heritage here for his extended family and in his last days as he called and visited with all of his Allen cousins, his sister, and his nieces he expressed his desires and hopes for the next generation - the 6th - of Kents and cousins. It was his life’s work. More important to him than his research. Families are Forever. 

Samuel relished the opportunity to sit down with friends and family and eat. His friends have all experienced his famous spaghetti dinners. A lobster fest on Crescent Beach was also a tradition not to be missed. His photographs are filled with beautiful meals and beautiful people often around the dinner table; long before it was the custom to photograph meals he was doing so. 

He was both an educated and polished classical man and professional and he was a cowboy and outdoorsman at heart. He became so during his postdoctoral years in Montana. His hat, boots, and western shirts are as much a part of him as his multiple degrees and publications. He hunted elk and deer and bear and duck and reveled in his son-in-law Mark’s hunting and fishing adventures as well.Together they obtained his last deer last fall. 

His last counsel was to reach out for joy and happiness, that life was to be joyful - that his had been a good life, to forgive, and to love one another. 

Samuel was preceded in death by his elder brother Edward Miles Allen Kent. He is survived by his beloved dog Todd and his two daughters, Heather Kent Dickson of Utah, Blythe Valerie Sherrill Kent of Jericho, Vermont, son-in-law Mark Dickson, and his sister Elizabeth Middleton Murov of Concord, Vermont. Grandchildren Samuel Dickson, Lauren Dickson DeMarco, Katherine Dickson, Emma Dickson, Benito Kent, Julyza, his step-daughters Heidi, Gretchen, Karen, Kristina, and Lindsay, best friend Walter Bartlau, and many cherished friends, nieces, nephews and his most beloved cousins. 

Services will be held on Saturday, October 15th 2022 at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 73 Essex Way, Essex, VT. 

Visiting hour from 10-10:45 a.m. 
Service at 11:00 a.m. 

Remains will be interred at Willoughby Lake at a memorial in the Summer.  

The family invites you to please share your memories and condolences. 

Please send all flower orders to La Vigne Funeral Home located at 132 Main St, Winooski, VT 05404.

Past Services


Saturday, October 15, 2022

10:00 - 10:45 am (Eastern time)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Essex Way

73 Essex Way, Essex, VT 05452

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Memorial Service

Saturday, October 15, 2022

11:00am - 12:00 pm (Eastern time)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

73 Essex Way, Essex, VT 05452

Get Directions

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