Robbie Kent Sr. is a man who has a hard time saying no. Known for his philanthropic acts, the 67-year-old says the one thing he believes in most is giving.
“You have to sacrifice for your family, for your fellow man,” he says. “The ones who are more fortunate need to continue to assist those less fortunate.”
Born and raised in Evansville, Kent received his undergraduate degree from Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Indiana, an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Southern Indiana, and an honorary degree from the University of Evansville. The former owner of Kenny Kent Chevrolet, Toyota, and Lexus and his team expanded the dealership into 11 franchises at one time. Since 1971 he has served on 14 different boards in the community.
“There are individuals and causes around Evansville that have touched my heart,” he says. “And it’s not the fact that I was able to give money, time, and energy, but the fact that others benefited from it, including myself.”
Kent was the first chairman of St. Mary’s Health Foundation’s Heritage Open Golf Scramble, which benefits St. Mary’s Center for Children. The event raised about $11,000 during its first year, Kent says, and now it collects more than $200,000. He still does not shy away from helping; he’s also co-chaired the 10th and 25th scrambles.
“St. Mary’s has already agreed that if I live long enough, I can chair the 50th Heritage Open,” he says with a laugh.
He is humble to a fault and credits the successes in his life to those around him. First and foremost, he shares how his family’s support allows him to pursue his philanthropic efforts.
“I have my wife of 46 years, Marguerite, and four children, Robbie Jr., Christopher, Jennifer, and Lauren. My family always gave me the rope to be able to do what I wanted to do, when I needed to do it, and for the right causes,” says Kent. “My second family, which was my employees, supported me as well. They made my job easier so I could go out and do what I needed.”
He also gives credit to his late father Kenny Kent, who taught his son the lesson of serving those around him. “I was fortunate to have my father as a mentor; he was a prime example of what life should be,” he says. “I could never walk in his shoes, but I could make him proud. That’s been my goal.”
Kent hopes Evansville’s future is filled with a younger generation stepping up to take charge of the city. “We need a next level of entrepreneurs to move the city forward,” he says. “Let’s look at the positive things about Evansville. We need to find the good because Evansville has a lot to be proud of.”
For more information about the St. Mary’s Heritage Open, call 812-485-5850 or visit stmarys.org/foundation.