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Harry Kent “H.K.” Webster passed away in the family home on January 25, 2023. He was born in Amarillo,TX on April 13th, 1926 to Ernest and Kathleen (Richardson) Webster where they had roots to early homesteading families in the Texas Panhandle. Kent married Ruth Anne Holme from Salinas, CA on August 23, 1952. They celebrated their 70th Wedding anniversary this past August.
While growing up in Amarillo HK scooped ice cream at the local drug store, was a band major in high school and participated in the school’s ROTC program. He also loved spending time at his best friend’s family ranch working as a cowhand. In his youth, his family would load up the old family car and make the summer trek from Amarillo to Creede, CO for a fishing vacation. It was here in Colorado that his love of fishing, camping, and skiing took root.
After graduating from high school, HK was in the V-12 Officer’s Training Program at Colorado College and then National ROTC program at Cal Berkeley where he studied International Relations becoming a Seaman 2nd class. He loved his time there and later in life he would recall with great fondness the foghorn he would hear at night on the sleeping porch of the Phi Delta house; he loved grey GJ days that reminded him of what he called a “Berkeley morning”. World War II ended just before he was to ship out for Japan from the Bay Area and he was Honorably Discharged in Galveston, TX.
He was able to attend CU Boulder using the GI Bill as well earning extra money working construction on the Boulder turnpike and driving long haul trucks to the Great Lakes region. He and his brother, Brien, also took time away from college to build an adobe home for their mom and dad in Amarillo. The young men mixed and made each adobe brick used to build the home.
Back in college at CU Boulder, Kent worked hard, and he played hard. He and a buddy leased a mountain cabin at the base of Loveland pass during the winter. They earned extra cash each winter weekend providing a very rustic “ski lodge” experience that provided beds and a Saturday night spaghetti dinner at a nominal fee for skiers from CU.
Kent met his bride-to-be on a double date when they were dating other people. After their marriage, he and Ruth Anne set up their first home in Denver while he finished law school at DU. They welcomed their first son, Scott, in Denver and then picked up stakes to move to the Western Slope with its appeal of both mountains and desert canyons nearby. Three more children- Brien, Lyndal and Susan were all born at St. Mary’s. HK built up his career in GJ as a land man, a municipal judge and then specifically focused on practicing law.
During his early days in the Grand Valley, he enjoyed tennis, flying and driving anything fast. Along with Russ Beecham, he was involved in starting the first go-kart track off of I-70 in the 1960’s and they later relocated to another track on the Corn Construction parking lot outside of Fruita.
In July of 1967, Kent joined Boy Scout Troop 356 leader Leonard Heighs guiding young Scouts (including son Scott) over the Flat Tops Wilderness Area to earn their 50 Miler Badge. Never one for the easy route… it was more like 62 miles. The young Scouts had a full page spread of their accomplishment printed in the Denver Post.
Ruth and Kent started their children early on skis at the old Mesa ski hill where they shared camaraderie with other ski families. When Powderhorn Ski Area was completed, HK was actively involved in developing the Powderhorn Ski Racing Club along with other ski parents. They became involved with the Buddy Werner Ski Program for their youngsters and then the USSA program for teen racers. It was at this time that HK, Ruth, other ski parents and their kids assisted in the design and cutting of the ski run known as Racer’s Edge. This group would also endure many a cold day on the ski hill either timing races or gatekeeping. Kent also became a member on the state board of the United States Ski Association, Rocky Mountain Division during those years.
He was also community minded with such organizations as The March of Dimes which he led in 1958, Rotary Club where he served as President in 1974-75. He was the Master of Mesa Masonic Lodge, #55, 1977 and later became a member of the El Jebel Shrine club.
Each August he could be found blazing across the deserts of Utah and Nevada to visit Ruth Anne’s mother and the extended family of in-laws in Carmel Valley. He loved driving the winding roads of the Valley and an empty coffee can was always in the backseat of the car for hapless riders. He would enjoy lounging around the pool, golfing the links around Carmel with his brothers-in-law, and sharing happy hour in front of the Holme family fireplace in the evenings. His and Ruth Anne’s wedding anniversary would often be celebrated while there.
After retiring he continued to enjoy golfing trips, square dancing and traveling with Ruth, playing poker with his Poker Club pals, and welcoming the next generation of children to the growing family. He loved showing his grandkids how to build a good campfire and he could make an excellent peach cobbler which added a level of sophistication to the most primitive campsite. He taught his kids and grandkids the proper etiquette when sharing a flyfishing stream or a ski hill with others. He would sign birthday cards to grandchildren “Grandpaw” and would often draw a three-toed paw print next to his signature. He would tell them bedtime stories about Old Three-toes, the clever Texas lobo, who had lost one toe in a trap but lived and learned from the experience. This story-telling tradition was passed down from Kent’s own father and, perhaps, this wolf really did live in the Palo Duro Canyon during the frontier days. Three-toes was mischievous and was always getting himself into a tight spot and Kent’s grandkids would eagerly await the next story-telling session to hear how Three-toes solved his problem and moved on to the next bit of trouble he would manage to get into.
Like his father and brother, Kent was a prankster. He loved honking his clown horn down his home’s air vents after his kids and grandchildren went to bed downstairs. He enjoyed making his oven roasted brown sugar bananas and chocolate milkshakes (with some butter blended in) and was big on preparing Sunday morning breakfast for the crew.
He loved dogs and would get down on the floor well into his 90’s just to give a dog a little extra attention. He quietly helped others whom he saw in need; he was “paying it forward” long before it became a popular phrase.
Most importantly he enjoyed sharing his love for skiing, camping, hunting, fishing, and hiking on the Western Slope as well as poking around the canyons of southeastern Utah. He taught many how to enjoy, respect and take care of our public lands. HK loved to pour over topographical maps but still managed to find the road not taken. HOURS later, after following such a road, he was famous for mixing his famous gin martinis in picnic cups and would pose the question of what we thought other people were doing with their day. Certainly few of them would have had the kind of adventure that he had taken us on, and yet we still would get up the next morning and do it all over again. We will continue to do so. We have the topo’s but you are still our North Star. Happy Trails!
Survivors include his wife Ruth, children Scott (Maripat) Webster, Brien (Feryl) Webster, Lyndal (Ted) Smith, Susan Webster, 10 grandchildren and his brother Brien. Arrangements have been entrusted to Brown's Funeral Home. A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date.
In lieu of flowers donations may be made Hope West or Shriner’s Hospital for Children, Salt Lake City, Utah
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