In Memoriam: E. Kent Swift, Jr.


The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution announces with great sorrow the death March 30, 2007 of Honorary Trustee E. Kent Swift, Jr. of Woods Hole.

Kent, who was educated at Harvard, was a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and was a lifelong lover of boats and all things nautical, especially marine engineering and electronics.  A descendant of generations of Yankee mariners who built and sailed ships out of Woods Hole in the whaling and commercial trades, he was also an avid fisherman, boater, aviator, and an amateur radio operator.

An Associate of the Institution for more than 30 years, Kent was first elected to the Corporation in 1982, and to the Board of Trustees in 1989, becoming Honorary Trustee in 1996.  He served on the Board’s Employee Retirement Trust Committee from 1987 to 1993, then became a member of the Access to the Sea (formerly Ships) Committee, serving for many years as either chair or co-chair.  In that role, he helped steer WHOI through many changes and improvements in its fleet of ships and small boats, including the refitting of the Knorr,  conversion of Oceanus and the acquisition of the new Atlantis and the Tioga, for which he provided design advice and also financial support.  His committee also oversaw and endorsed the conversion and growth of the WHOI-operated National Deep Submergence Facility.  It is an understatement to say that he was devoted to the Institution and its marine personnel, and often stopped by the WHOI’s Marine Operations office to catch up on news and share produce from his garden.  Kent was aboard Atlantis for the final leg of its maiden voyage from the shipyard to its home port in Woods Hole in 1997, and he served as a host at special tours of Atlantis for members of Congress and other dignitaries during the ship’s port call in Alexandria, VA.  He also participated in several ship cruises to observe first hand WHOI’s scientists and mariners in action.

Kent pursued a business career locally as president and treasurer of Harborside Marine and Sports and also Gun and Tackle, Inc.  Prior to that, he was director and president of Scott Lumber Company in Lansing, OH, and vice president and director of Whitin Machine Works in Northbridge, MA.

Among survivors are his wife, Arlette, of Woods Hole, son E. Kent, III, daughter Jeannine, and sister, WHOI Honorary Corporation Member Anne W. Sawyer.

There will be a Memorial Service on Tuesday, April 3 at 2:00 p.m. at the First Congregational Church in Falmouth, MA.  Burial will be private.  The family requests that memorial donations be sent to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Attn:  Development Office, 266 Woods Hole Road, MS #40,Woods Hole, MA  02543.


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