(Written by my mother Susan Foutz,
who would like to clarify that she actually has two brothers like no other )
If you lived in Arizona in the 80s, 90s or 2000s, Kent Dana was probably in your home every night at 6 and 10 p.m., reporting the news. To many he was a famous local anchor but to me, he was my beloved big brother. Being the fifth of seven children, I sometimes fought for recognition in a large family. Kent was definitely the antidote for that.
Bottom row - Marilyn, Joe, Kathleen, Dora
A favorite early memory of Kent, is of him at the helm of our family boat. I was always in the far back with the biggest, most reliable life jacket available, shaking with fear that any minute we would capsize and our family would be lost to Saguaro Lake. I have never been a lover of water sports like most of my siblings, and prefer hiking on solid ground in the mountains of Greer, Arizona, our family's favorite vacation spot.
On one trip to the lake, Kent announced that it was time for me to learn to water ski. No thank you, was my response. But Kent was a master of persuasion, and when it came to teaching skiing he had a perfect record. Before I could resist, he was in the water with me, adjusting the skis. After dozens and dozens of tries, and me swallowing gallons of lake water, he told me we were not leaving until I was able to stay up. Lo and behold, I finally got up. My self esteem soared, and I have never stopped bragging that I can ski despite my water anxiety.
Kent always make me feel important. When he was in Uruguay on a Church mission he would frequently write letters just to me. I still have each one.
The following is an excerpt from one of my favorites -
"I want to propose a plan. When I get home, you will be 16 and a half and well into your social life. From what I predict, you will be quite a beautiful young lady. As you know, your big brother will be quite out of it as far as dating manners, latest dance steps, where to go, etc., so I want to ask your help. I want to take you out before anyone else so you can correct me in my blundering. I will be a social left foot and will need up to date advice, will you do it?"
He was always a loyal cheerleader in my life, and could bring light to any dark day with his contagious laugh and optimistic outlook.
In April of 1973, Kent called me to announce the birth of his third child, a daughter, and said her name would be Susan. As tears flowed, my husband thought there had been a tragedy, when actually, I had just received the greatest compliment.
In the early 90s, he was interviewed by the Arizona Republic.
The reporter asked him, “What is your most memorable meal?” and he answered -
“A holiday meal at my sister Susan’s house. She invited all our siblings and their spouses over. She put on a feast and a demonstration that I have never even seen in a restaurant. She went above and beyond, she blew us away.”
He may have been prone to exaggeration but he sure knew how to make his little sister have a good day. Actually, he knew how to make everyone have a good day.
He even lifted me up on the very worst day of my life. On November 11, 2002, my beloved husband Jim suddenly passed away. Kent immediately left the news station and was the first to arrive at the hospital. I will never forget the bear hug he gave me and the tears he shed with me. I think that was the moment I knew that somehow I might survive.
In the twenty years since, his phone calls and support have lifted me up and helped me go on. Kent’s compassion and kindness was unparalleled. I will always be grateful for the joy he brought to my life, and his unwavering love and support.