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Barbara Kent

HANCOCK - Barbara Kent Ph.D, 72, died June 24, 2013, from complications related to a recent fall. She was born July 29, 1940, in Decatur, Ill., daughter of William and Charlotte (Conklin) Boyer.

She earned undergraduate and doctoral degrees from Emory University. Through 1990 Barbara taught medical students and fellows as she undertook extensive biomedical research projects, authoring dozens of papers relating to her research work. In 1968 Barbara, then a graduate student doing research in physiology, began working with Converse Peirce, MD, a New York physician and researcher. Dr. Peirce regularly invited Barbara to join him in his lab at Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratories, MDIBL, where he worked while summering with his family on Hancock Point. Barbara grew to love Hancock Point and endeavored to make it her year-round home. After two decades of commuting between Hancock Point and her research work at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Barbara was appointed as MDIBL's first full-time administrative director in 1991 where she continued to work until her retirement in 2002. While at MDIBL, Barbara was instrumental in promoting the lab's reputation as a world renowned biomedical research facility and its transformation from a seasonal to a year-round research institution. During her tenure at MDIBL, Barbara guided and mentored hundreds of young people who began their science/research careers at MDIBL. She established special programs for Maine students and minority students from New York City, facilitating their entry into science. After her retirement, Barbara served on the MDIBL Board of Trustees; in 2012, she received a lifelong achievement award from the Board. In addition to her professional accomplishments, Barbara was deeply committed to volunteerism, providing leadership and support to many organizations. While at Emory, she became involved in the Civil Rights movement. She was active on the Hancock Point Chapel Board, Hancock Point Village Improvement Society, Frenchman's Bay Conservancy, Acadia Community Tennis Association, the Rotary Club and the Mount Desert Island Hospital Board. She contributed generously to many worthy causes, showing a particular interest in science, classical music and youth tennis. When she was young, Barbara was a nationally ranked tennis player who ultimately opted to pursue science instead of a tennis career. However, she never lost her passion for the sport and continued to compete as an adult. She sported the vanity plate of "40 LUV." When Barbara was diagnosed with cancer in 1981 and, again, in 1983, radiation therapy severely damaged her upper torso, rendering her dominant arm useless. Instead of giving up tennis, Barbara spent endless hours learning to play one-handed with her non-dominant arm and ultimately competed in USTA matches. Her courage and dogged determination would inspire tennis players throughout Down East Maine. Her accomplishments spanned other endeavors as well. Despite her physical limits, she continued to pilot her boat between Salisbury Cove and Hancock and; as long as her health permitted, she rode her bike. Due to heart and lung damage caused by her cancer treatment, Barbara's health and physical abilities declined in recent years. Although this severely limited her activity and made daily function challenging, Barbara never gave up. She and her life-long friend and supportive companion, Rita Fernando, traveled the world and were active in social and charitable activities throughout Hancock.

Barbara is survived by her companion, Rita Fernando; brother, Bill Boyer; and two nephews. Other special friends included, Esther Peirce, Dr. Ron Adelman and the members of the Scherbel/Flynn family, who shared the last 12 extraordinary years with Barbara and Rita. Because Barbara was a fixture in the community, it is impossible to capture the names of the many close friends who are affected by Barbara's passing. Barbara's courage, grace and brilliance were admired by hundreds of friends and colleagues.

A memorial service will be held 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 11, at Hancock Point Chapel, Hancock. Donations in lieu of flowers should be made to Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory, 159 Old Bar Harbor Road, Salisbury Cove, ME 04672; or to Frenchman Bay Conservancy, P.O. Box 150, Hancock, ME 04640. Arrangements by Jordan-Fernald, 113 Franklin St., Ellsworth. Condolences may be expressed at www.jordanfernald.com.

Published in BDN Maine on July 9, 2013
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