KENT LAVOR COLBY
Nov. 12, 1944 – October 18, 2020
Kent LaVor Colby, 75, died October 18, 2020, in Kanab, Utah, surrounded by his loving family. Despite an eight-year battle with cancer, Kent lived a life of adventure to the very end.
Born Nov. 12, 1944, in Salina, Utah, Kent enjoyed a rural youth living on the same street as his aunts, uncles and grandparents. Evidence that work ethic starts early, Kent spent his adolescence mowing the lawns of the Salina cemetery; working at his grandfather’s egg farm; and rising early to deliver The Salt Lake Tribune via bicycle with his brother, Ronald.
After his family moved to Richfield, Utah, Kent worked as a projectionist at the Huish Theater while in high school; in the turkey farms as a teen and adult; and caught his lifelong radio bug at KSVC AM 930, which he would later return home to purchase and operate midlife.
Kent studied engineering and psychology at Utah State University in Logan, Utah; often recalling his frigid motorcycle rides from Richfield to Cache County. His first big adventure came with a job offer at KBLL-AM/TV in Helena, Montana, which led to a half-century career in broadcasting, including at KGEZ-AM in Kalispell, MT; KRTV in Great Falls, MT; as vice president at Minnesota-Iowa Television Co., in Austin, MN; and as general manager at WLKM in Three Rivers, MI, and KPRK in Livingston, MT. In 1980, Kent returned home to Richfield to purchase KSVC AM 930 and its FM sister station KKWZ as Sevier Valley Broadcasting Co., where he served as the recognizable voice of central Utah news, information and entertainment for 15 years. Along the way, Kent married the former Jean Davison, later divorced, and they had three children: Corie, Karie and Lance.
At a city council meeting in 1990, Kent met a fellow journalist, Nicole Alix Bonham of Kanab, UT, who would become his wife and partner in crime for the next 30 years. They moved to Salt Lake City, where Nicole was a staff writer for the Deseret News, and Kent founded a radio syndicate Rural Utah News (RUN Network), occasionally passing each other in the busy corridors of the Utah Capitol as the Legislature was in session. Their life’s adventure took hold with a fateful bicycle ride from Anchorage to Homer along Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula. That fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants adventure triggered their love of Alaska and prompted them to pull up stakes in 1994 and relocate to a remote wilderness island in Alaska’s Panhandle, where Kent built a cabin and the two desert landlubbers learned the ways of the rainforest and sea. They married at daybreak on Nemo Point, Wrangell Island, overlooking their cabin and Zimovia Strait.
In 1995, an opportunity to manage commercial radio stations in Ketchikan arose, and Kent and Nicole moved to Ketchikan, where they hosted a morning show on KTKN/KGTW and worked for the Ketchikan Daily News, Alaska Business magazine, Alaska Journal of Commerce, and other publications. Another fluke encounter resulted in an opportunity to work in Antarctica, and the two packed their bags for the southern hemisphere, enjoying more than a decade with the U.S. Antarctic Program, where Kent worked in communications and eventually as Senior Technical Project Manager at McMurdo Station for contractor Raytheon, leading projects including consolidation of the ice airfield runways, design and implementation of an electric-vehicle replacement fleet, certification of the microwave landing system enabling safe aircraft landings at the research station, and update of Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting (ARFF) system at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. Kent’s work took him from a pup tent on the southern polar ice cap to the edge of the steaming crater of Mt. Erebus.
The pair relocated full time to Denver in 2006 to work for Raytheon and for Nicole to study law. In 2012, they moved back “home,” dividing their time between Ketchikan and Kanab, where Kent started an orchard and raised bees.
A lifelong volunteer and community promoter, Kent was serious about his conviction of civic pride, compassion and contribution. He served as founder and past president of the Sevier County (UT) Fair Foundation; on the board of the Salvation Army in Austin, MN; as past chairman of the Utah Emergency Broadcast System; and, as a private pilot, former squadron commander of the Richfield Wing of Civil Air Patrol. At the time of death, Kent served as a board member of KRBD public radio in Ketchikan, Historic Ketchikan, and First City Council on Cancer.
Kent is survived by his wife, Nicole, of Kanab and Ketchikan; daughter Corie Colby, Madison, WI; son Lance Colby, Columbus, OH; brother-in-law Alex Bonham Jr. (Kerry) and niece Kate and nephew Jake, Tempe, AZ; mother-in-law Sally Bonham, Kanab, UT; brother Ronald (Elaine) Colby, Kearns, UT; sister Marie (Fred) Christensen, Anabella, UT; brother Russell (Marla) Colby, San Tan Valley, AZ; nephew Ronald Colby Jr. (Bonnie), Page, AZ; beloved dog “Onyx,” and many additional family and loving friends.
Kent was preceded in death by: daughter Karie Colby; father Murvin Colby, “mom” Geneal Colby, and biological mother Nelda Peterson.
In lieu of flowers, Kent requested that donations be made to First City Council of Cancer, P.O. Box 8832, Ketchikan, AK 99901; Jubilee Homes of Dixie Regional Medical Center; Leukemia & Lymphoma Society; or to lobby for continued Downwinders support for those whose lives were affected by atomic testing.
A celebration of life will be held in Kanab and Ketchikan at a later date.