11/14/01

Jack Dent

Jack Allison Gray Dent, 85, died Nov. 9 in Flagstaff. He was born on May 20, 1916 to John and Annie Gray Dent in Detroit, Mich. The family moved to Winslow in 1920 and to Bellemont in 1922. Mr. Dent and his brothers Tracy, George, Walter and Bruce went to school in a one-room schoolhouse at Bellemont through the eighth grade. Jack attended Flagstaff High School for two years and boarded at “Old Maine” with four other high school students one of those years.

During the Great Depression, Mr. Dent left school for two years to work for the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) to earn money to continue his education. He then lived with his grandparents in Albuquerque, N.M. and completed high school there.

He returned to Flagstaff to attend Arizona State Teacher’s College (now Northern Arizona University) where he earned a teaching degree in chemistry. While in college, Mr. Dent drove the first school bus for the Flagstaff schools. He also worked as a city marshal for Flagstaff.

In May 1941, Mr. Dent married Mary Jacquetta (Jacie) Sterrett. Soon after WWII started, he tried to enlist three times in the armed services. He was turned down due to only having two whole fingers on his right hand. He had to prove that he could hold and fire a gun with that hand before being accepted into the U.S. Army. He fought in the 10th Armored Division under Gen. George Patton, whom he came to know personally. Jack fought in the Battle of the Bulge where he was wounded and received the Purple Heart and Bronze Star. He and his tank crew were the first to liberate a German prisoner of ear camp holding Allied prisoners. He attained the rank of staff sergeant.

Mr. Dent served in the Occupation Army after Germany was defeated and played baseball on the division team that won the European championship. These teams included professional players such as Stan Musial and Ted Williams who had also enlisted during the war.

Mr. Dent was discharged in 1946 and returned to Flagstaff where he worked at Flagstaff Auto Supply. Jack, Jacie and their first child, Bruce, moved to Williams in 1949 where he opened 66 Auto Supply, which he owned and operated until he sold it in 1975.

Six more children were born in Williams — David, Donald, Richard, Steven, John and Suzanna. Mr. Dent was very proud of his family.

He served two terms on the Williams City Council in the 1950s and he served 39 years on the Williams Unified School District Governing Board, which is the record in Arizona. He served as president of the Arizona School Board Association and was the first inductee into the Arizona School Board Hall of Fame. As a school board member, Mr. Dent presented high school diplomas to all seven of his children, grandchildren and thousands of others.

He was an avid baseball fan, serving as head scorekeeper for 15 years for Williams Little League. He later kept score for the high school baseball teams while his sons played. Mr. Dent also sponsored Little League and Babe Ruth teams for many years.

He served on the Bishop’s Committee of St. John’s Episcopal Church for many years. He helped construct the church (built in 1952) and Walker Hall (1962). Mr. Dent was active in the popular July Fourth barbecue sponsored by the church.

He was a member of the Williams-Grand Canyon Masonic Lodge No. 38 and served as Master of the Lodge several times. In addition, Mr. Dent was a member of El Zarabia Shrine in Tucson. He was a member of the Elk’s Lodge while it was active in Williams.

Mr. Dent was active in county, state and national politics although he never sought office. He was consulted for his expertise in school operations and testified in both state and national legislative hearings on school issues. He was chosen several times to meet with Arizona’s national legislative members. Mr. Dent was a personal friend of Barry Goldwater, Bob Stump, Sam Steiger, Gov. Jack Williams, Gov. Raul Castro, Sam McConnell, John Wettaw, Tony Gabaldon, Dennis Wells and others. He was visited numerous times for advice and counsel by these men and one time while visiting John Wettaw, he was introduced and given a standing ovation by the entire House of Representatives.

A year following Jacie Dent’s death, Jack married Naomi Hart, who had introduced Jack and Jacie in 1940. Naomi retired as a teacher in Flagstaff. They were married in 1987 for 12 years until her death.

Survivors include one brother, Tracy Dent and his wife, Betty, of Williams; five sons and their wives, David and Bonnie, Don and Cookie, and John and Kim all of Williams, Richard and Mindy of Phoenix and Steve and Claudia of Glendale; a daughter Suzie and her husband, Richard Bowden, of Lenexa, Kan.; 20 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Mr. Dent was preceded in death by his wives, Jacquetta Sterrett and Naomi Hart; a son, Bruce; and three brothers Walter, George and Bruce.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a donation to the Williams High School Booster Club or the Bruce Dent Memorial Scholarship Fund through National Bank of Arizona.

Services will be at 11 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 15, at St. John's Episcopal Lutheran Church in Williams. Burial will follow at Williams Cemetery.

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