Norton A. Kent, city planner and community volunteer


Norton A. Kent, 96, formerly of Chestnut Hill, a city planner and longtime community volunteer, died April 26 of complications of the coronavirus at Foulkeways in Gwynedd.

Mr. Kent’s career as a city planner took him to positions in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, and Norwalk, Connecticut, in addition to projects in Philadelphia and Chester County.

Mr. Kent’s daughter Stacy Kent Wyckoff said the project her father was most proud of was “being able to persuade the Twin Cities to integrate public housing throughout the cities rather than isolating the poorer populations there.”

“This was in the early 60s,” she said, “so not a concept that was widely explored at the time.”

The son of Jewish immigrants from Russia, he learned his father’s trade as a builder. During World War II, he joined the Army as a response, his daughter said, to what was happening in Germany. After leaving the service, he earned an undergraduate degree in architecture and a master’s degree in city planning from the University of Pennsylvania, where he met his future wife.

Mr. Kent was long active in the community. He served as a 9th Ward Democratic Committeeperson for many years, was a board member of the Chestnut Hill Community Association and the Water Tower Recreation Center, and was a volunteer at the University of Pennsylvania Museum.

An avid reader, he was often reading three to five books at one time. He enjoyed carpentry, woodworking and painting.

Wyckoff added: “He loved the mountains. He loved the beach. He loved people and he read them well. He loved women, He loved vodka. He loved to dance. He loved his family, passionately.”

In addition to his daughter Stacy, he is survived by daughter Martha Kent Martin; and five grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife of 56 years, the former Barbara Bruce; and a brother Oscar.

A celebration of Mr. Kent’s life is planned for the future. – WF



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