Kent Beckwith Lawrence of Boston and West Boothbay Harbor, Maine, died on May 12, 2022 in Boston from prostate cancer. He was 86 years old.
Kent was born in Boston, the son of the late Dr. Richard W. and Mary (Peckham) Lawrence. He attended schools in New England and Washington, and in 1958 graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis. The day after his graduation he married his high school sweetheart, Erna MacLaughlin of Newport, R.I., in the Naval Academy Chapel. Kent and Erna then embarked side by side as he pursued a Navy career that lasted just over 20 years.
After four years in destroyers, the remainder of Kent’s Navy assignments, both afloat and ashore, involved the submarine service. He served in several subs, and was commander of an attack submarine in the early 1970s. Overseas postings were in London and in Ankara, Turkey. His family accompanied him to both foreign stations, and they all greatly enjoyed the experience of living abroad.
After retiring from the Navy in 1980 Kent returned to the Boston area and embarked on a financial services career. For several years he was a stockbroker with E.F. Hutton, and subsequently became a vice president at the Bank of Boston. In 1988 he joined Babson-United Investment Advisors as a senior investment counselor, and remained with that firm until his retirement as vice president in 2003. Just one year later he was diagnosed with aggressive, high-risk prostate cancer, and decided to devote the remainder of his life volunteering for advocacy, education, and support of other patients. For his leadership and service in those efforts he was awarded by the American Cancer Society and the Cancer Hope Network.
In retirement Kent was also active in a wide variety of other organizations. He was a volunteer docent at Boston’s Old North Church and at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. He also served with Discovering Justice, Boston’s nonprofit civic education organization. For several years he was with the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court as a Hearing Committee member of their Board of Bar Overseers.
He was a proprietor of the Boston Athenaeum, and an active member of several clubs, including the Wardroom Club of Boston, the British Officers’ Club of New England, the Harvard Travellers Club, and the Boston Committee on Foreign Relations. An avid genealogist, he identified eight ancestors who had served our nation’s cause during the Revolutionary War, and was a member of the Sons of the American Revolution.
A keen boating enthusiast, he started sailing offshore at the age of 15, and kept a boat at his vacation home in Maine. He was an active member of both the Boothbay Harbor and Down East Yacht Clubs. He earned a master’s license in the U.S. Merchant Marine.
Kent was an enthusiastic and dedicated Episcopalian with an abiding belief in the love and power of God. He was a communicant and corporation/vestry member of Christ Church, Boston (the Old North Church). He was also a governing board member of All Saints by-the-Sea Episcopal Church near his summer home in Maine.
The greatest joys in Kent’s life came from his loving wife Erna, his family, and good friends. They all shared a bond together that grew ever stronger as years went by. He also achieved much happiness from an eclectic assortment of pleasures which included maritime art, antiques, and artifacts; the Rite One Book of Common Prayer; history; New England; gourmet food; being out on the water; positive attitudes; non-fiction books; snowstorms; Tanqueray martinis; traditional clothing; seafood; railroad trains; Maine in July and August; Boston in the other months; the music of Bach, Beethoven, and Handel; and of course the Red Sox and Patriots.
Kent is survived by Erna MacLaughlin Lawrence, his beloved wife and dearest friend with whom he shared almost 64 years of joyous married life. Erna is retired from a 22-year career at Deutsche Bank/Zurich-Scudder Investments where she was a vice president. He also leaves a son, Richard M. Lawrence; a daughter, Kimberley L. Byrd; and her husband Christopher M. Byrd. Additional survivors include five grandchildren, his sister, and two nephews.
An Episcopal Memorial Service with Holy Communion will be held at The Old North Church in Boston on Saturday, May 28 at 10 a.m. There will also be a Memorial Service this summer at All Saints-By-the-Sea in Southport, Maine. His ashes will be inurned with Erna’s in the Columbarium at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Kent’s memory may be made to the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, 55 Fruit St., Boston, MA, 02114 or The Old North Church, 193 Salem St., Boston, MA, 02113.
For online condolences and/or directions, please visit: www.watermanboston.com.