To view the funeral service for the late Eileen Kent on Wednesday, September 20 at 11 a.m.,
please follow the link below:
Daughter, Sister, Wife, Mother, Friend, and Wild Nana.
On the afternoon of 10 September 2023, Eileen Mary Kent passed away with family by her side, following a sudden cancer diagnosis. We are grateful to those who helped care for her in the final weeks, especially the nurses, doctors, and paramedics of the Community Palliative Care Program. Thanks as well to her sister Marg, who was daily by her side. With their help, Eileen was able to die peacefully, quietly, and pain-free at her home. She was 72. We mourn her loss and celebrate her life, so very well lived.
Eileen was born on 7 March 1951, on the small island of St. Brendan’s in Bonavista Bay, the sixth of what would be the ten children of Joseph (Joe) Croke and Bridget (Bride, née, Ryan). Her family never had much at the best of times, but Eileen was born during what, we later learned, was called the “hungry month of March,” the period after the root cellars ran empty and before the sea ice broke. Eileen’s father Joe worked with his two brothers operating a small cargo schooner up and down the Labrador coast. With Joe frequently away and money tight, Bride still managed to raise Eileen and the other nine siblings (Elizabeth, Laura, Gord, Edwina, Marie, Shirl, Marg, Kev, and Ron). Those conditions, and the love that held them together, made the Croke siblings extraordinarily close to and protective of each other, even to this day.
During the Resettlement phase of Newfoundland and Labrador’s history, the family moved away from St Brendan’s, first to Carbonear for a year, before finally settling in St John’s. There, along with her sisters Marie, Shirl, and Marg, Eileen attended Holy Heart High School. Between the nuns and the city girls, they all declared it to be overwhelming and intimidating but they got through it. Following graduation, Eileen worked at the Woolco department store before finding a job as a payroll clerk at St. John’s City Hall.
In 1970, the City was audited by the provincial government and this brought Ed Kent, a young man from Bell Island working for the Auditor General, into Eileen’s orbit. Ed had a flashy car he had just bought in Toronto. Casually disregarding potential conflicts of interest, they dated and, in 1972, they married. A few years later, Eileen welcomed her two sons, Eddy and David, into the world. For better or worse, they became the centre of her life. She often said she was worried about Eddy, whom she carried through pregnancy for seven months following her mother’s sudden death in 1978, during which time she said she cried almost every day. Poor Eddy turned out alright, though, as did the more robust and charming David.
After several years at home with the kids, Eileen returned to the workforce in the late 80s, working first at a local daycare, before taking a job as a payroll clerk at St. Patrick’s Mercy Home. In time, the opportunity to become the payroll manager appeared; however, the position required the applicant to have professional certification. This led Eileen on her big adventure–returning to school as a mature student! Those who knew remember how anxious she was about being “the old woman with only her Grade 11” in the university classrooms at MUN. Still, she persevered, completed her courses, sat her exams and was accredited as a Certified Payroll Manager by the Canadian Payroll Association. Her sons were themselves students at the time, and they eventually both became university professors. They are immensely proud of their mom’s determination and accomplishments. Eileen then worked as a payroll manager at St Patrick’s and Hoyles Escasoni homes, eventually becoming the payroll manager of Eastern Health until her retirement in 2016.
During that time, her sons were forming families of their own and the subsequent grandchildren–Felix, Zara, Patrick, and Robyn–supplanted them at Eileen’s emotional centre. As Eddy and David moved variously between Vancouver, Cambridge, New Jersey, Edmonton, and York, Eileen travelled frequently and embraced life as a “wild Nana” (a term coined by Zara). The cliche of home being where the heart lays really was true for Eileen. She was never more comfortable, more content, and more happy, than with them. They adored her in return. During Covid she would sit on FaceTime for hours, doing sums and spelling with her grandchildren. She was proud to share many of their early life events and we mourn bitterly the fact that she will not be there as they grow further. We are consoled that she was in the UK with Patrick and Robyn for six weeks in May and June in full Nana mode, completely unaware of her underlying condition.
She loved to walk, and no one could keep up with her. In mid and late life she was a regular at the Tely 10 and kept a competitive pace. She had “her dad’s legs”, we were told. She especially enjoyed her many walks with her dear friend Ellen Coady and, later in life, with the Portugal Cove / St Philip’s community hiking group. Her other big love was music. She didn’t often sing in public, but our home was full of her singing and humming, idly performed while she was doing other things. We’ll never understand, but will forgive, her love of Rod Stewart. In 2010, she made it to London where she saw him in concert, accompanied by David. There, at her musical Mecca, she said, “Can you imagine a little girl from St. Brendan’s could make it to London to see her favourite singer?” Towards the end of life, she joked that she was finally getting Rod Stewart Hair.
Eileen’s friends, family and coworkers will know that Eileen was both caring and carefree. She turned up when people needed help, especially for her brothers and sisters, and she loved being around foolishness. She knew that the key to humour is first being able to laugh at yourself. The cabins and trailers of Eastport and Gunner’s Pond have corners still echoing with her laughter; as her horizons expanded, that giddiness spread to Banff, Tenerife, Malaga, and Madeira. Even exotic Great Yarmouth!
She grew alongside her family. With Kev, she went camel riding; with Ron she went parasailing; with David she ate sushi; with Felix she tobogganed recklessly; with Zara she chased elk; with Patrick and Robyn she explored the castles of England, and with Eddy she almost drowned in three-feet of water on the Vltava river. A constant with her was Ed, with whom she celebrated 50 years of marriage in December 2022.
Eileen is survived by Ed; Eddy (Terri); David (Jillian); Felix, Zara, Patrick and Robyn; her sisters Bess, Laura (Wally), Edwina (Doug), Marie (Wayne), Shirl (Pat) and Marg; her brothers Gord (Ag), Kev (Yvonne) and Ron (Carol Ann). Also mourning are her in-laws Paul (Liz), Sharon (Dave), Lorne (Linda), Brian (Lynn), Madonna (Rui), Wayne (Wanda), Chris (Corina); as well as other family members, friends, and colleagues around the world. She had many nieces and nephews, all of whom she loved and loved being around, but she had special relationships with nephew Mark Croke and nieces Sarah Croke and Heather Croke. She is predeceased by sisters-in-law Donna and Maureen.
The effect of her life on those around her was incalculable. We will miss her forever.
A Catholic funeral will be held at the Basilica of St John the Baptist, in St John’s at 11:00 am on Wednesday, 20 September 2023. For those unable to attend, this service will be livestreamed on the Basilica’s youtube page: https://t.ly/eileenkent. Following her wishes, we will celebrate Eileen’s life at a later date. If you’d like to share a memory, offer condolences, or update your email on the family’s contact list, please use this link: https://t.ly/eileenkentemail. If you wish to make a gift in her memory, we would welcome contributions to The Gathering Place https://kindnesswanted.ca. Flowers are gratefully declined.
Basilica Cathedral of St. John the Baptist