In Memory

Renee Deanne Kent VIEW PROFILE

12/5/1953 - 10/22/2015

Former Hastings resident, Renee Deanne Kent, 61 passed away Thursday, October 22, 2015 at her home in Omaha, NE.

Renee was born December 5, 1953 to Robert and Erma (Reiber) Kent in Hastings, NE. She was baptized and confirmed at First St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Hastings, and has been a lifetime member of the church.

She graduated in 1972 from Hastings High School and from Kearney State College in 1975. Her life was dedicated to teaching children with special needs for 40 years. Three of these at the Kearney Reform School, 14 years at Omaha Alpha School and the last 23 years at Omaha Northwest High School in the Behavior Skills Program. All of her teaching experience was with students needing assistance in learning more appropriate decision making skills as well as assistance in academic endeavors.

Renee was a very talented crafts person, baker and cook. She hand crafted many one of a kind beautiful miniature doll outfits which were made to represent the characters of nursery rhymes, fairy tales and holidays. Her website for dolls and doll clothes developed a worldwide clientele and she had sales in many countries including, Russia, Greece, Spain and the United States.

Cassidy was her beloved pet dog and companion. It appeared they could read each other’s minds. Cassidy obeyed Renee’s eye and voice commands and could do several tricks.

She is survived by her father, Robert of Hastings, brother Brett (Karen) of Silver Springs, Maryland, nephew, David (Karen) of Springfield, Virginia and other uncles, aunts and cousins.

She will be missed by family, many students, co-workers, and Cassidy.

Renee was preceded in death by her mother Erma.

Services will be 10:30 am Thursday, October 29, 2015 at First St. Paul’s Lutheran Church with Pastor Joel Remmers officiating, visitation will be one hour prior to the service. Burial will be in Parkview Cemetery. Visitation will be Wednesday, October 28, 2015 from 6 pm to 8 pm with family present at the Apfel Funeral Home Chapel, Hastings. Apfel Funeral Home, Hastings is in charge of the arrangements. Condolences may be sent to the family from

Memorials may be given to the First St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Hastings.

Renee Kent ‘understood kids like no other’ during 23 years at Northwest High


Posted: Friday, October 30, 2015 12:30 am

By Erin Duffy / World-Herald staff writer The Omaha World-Herald


The cards and heartfelt notes from co-workers, former students and their families have comforted Renee Kent’s family in the wake of the Northwest High teacher’s sudden death last week.

Kent, 61, spent decades as a special education teacher, working closely with kids with behavioral problems. She worked at several alternative schools in Nebraska, including the Alpha School in Omaha, and spent the past 23 years teaching at Northwest, in the behavioral skills program.

“She was never married, no children, but she had hundreds of kids, thousands of kids,” said Dana Gray, the dean of students at Northwest, who was a friend and co-worker of Kent’s. “She understood kids like no other. She worked with some of the most difficult students, the most fragile students with behavior disorders.”

Kent died Oct. 22 after complaining of flu-like symptoms for several weeks.

She was born in Hastings and graduated from Kearney State College but had lived in Omaha for years.

Relatives remembered a funny, craft-loving woman who was devoted to her students and her beloved cocker spaniel, Cassidy, whom Kent taught multiple tricks and commands.

“I think that dog could read almost,” cousin Rebecca Kent said.

Kent loved sewing, stitching and crocheting and had a website where she sold tiny doll clothes to customers as far away as Greece, India and Australia, according to Rebecca Kent. She was an avid reader and loved settling in on weekends to watch old movies.

Her family has enjoyed reading notes and condolences from former students and their families.

“Mothers have written saying she was the one that touched her son, helped pull him through, and that they hope she’s still there to reach down and help their kids,” Rebecca Kent said. “We’re hearing that more and more.”

At work, Kent was an invaluable resource, Gray said, always quick to volunteer to help with a student who was struggling or needed a little extra attention. She knew how to keep order and maintain discipline in her class, and she came up with creative ways to keep kids engaged in their schoolwork.

Many of her students stayed in the behavioral skills program for all four years of high school.

“She just built huge relationships with her kids,” Gray said. “She’s just totally missed, especially by me.”

Survivors include her father, Robert, of Hastings and brother, Brett, of Silver Spring, Maryland.

Her funeral service was held Thursday in Hastings. A memorial service is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday at Lutheran Church of the Master in Omaha.

Contact the writer: 402-444-1210,

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