Joseph Kent Dowell of West Plains, Missouri, was born into this world in Houston, Texas, the four-pound half of a set of twins. While brother Drew was given the “all clear” to head home and begin the busy life of an infant, Kent was consigned to the “undersized” hospital ward, where he would spend 11 days packing on weight until he eventually tipped the scales at a whopping five pounds, before being allowed to join the family. His ride through life came to an premature end at the age of 47, when, on the night of Tuesday, January 3, 2017, his three-year fight against an aggressive brain tumor ended in final peace.
Kent is survived by his father, Charles Dowell, son Dakota and fiance’ Kassidy, brothers Derek and Drew, step-children Justin, Lacey, Hannah, and Kaydin, and step-grandchildren Naylee and Ransin. Kent was preceded in death by his mother, Mary Ann, paternal grandparents Oree and Gloria
Dowell, and maternal grandparents Van and Teresa Bryson.
Though he was born in Houston, Texas, the same year nearby NASA mission control put a man on the moon for the first time, Kent spent most of his childhood hunting, working and roughhousing with his brothers on 210 acres of rugged Missouri wilderness known to this day affectionately as “The Farm.” Kent was lucky that he found his life’s calling early – around the age of two when he tried to hoist a hammer, approximately equal to his own weight, to help his dad with a project at the top of the stairs. Grimly clutching the heavy tool to the bitter end, over he went backwards, tumbling head over heels to the bottom.
Thanks to an “enthusiastic” nature, Kent didn’t mind risking injury to life and limb through a variety of life pursuits: football, basketball, stock car racing, demolition derby competition, and the occasional street race. His ragged out, homemade Mustang left many a new, shiny, competitor’s car eating dust in the wake of his stoplight-to-stoplight careening dash.
After high school, Kent spent one year at the College of the Ozarks but, intelligent though he was, formal education was not a motivation. Not when there were cars to be worked on, bass guitars to be played, and hair to grow long. After a succession of jobs working for Branson area mechanic shops, Kent was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug and went into business for himself as an auto mechanic in Hollister. His skill and personality insured that his parking lot and garage bays would always be full. Eventually he tired of the tax man’s repetitive demands, closed the shop, and returned to traditional employment.
The pride and joy of Kent’s life (barely edging out stock car racing at the finish line – just kidding, calm down) was his son, Dakota, a graduate from College of the Ozarks and now loving life as a Stone County deputy with a wedding on the horizon. After the death of his mother in 2012, Kent returned to West Plains to help his dad on the family farm and start a mobile car repair business. He reconnected with an old flame and was soon remarried with four step-children and two step-grandchildren, all of whom he took great joy in spending time with. But by that time, it was obvious he was very sick.
The diagnosis was a stage three glioblastoma which soon elevated to stage four – a fast-moving and elusive brain tumor. A ten-hour surgery removed most of it, but there was radiation and chemo to endure, which he did with an unnatural (for others, expected from him) good grace. But it would return with a vengeance. By the time he staggered to the ultimate finish line his body was half-paralyzed and beset by a baker’s dozen collection of medications, but he never once had a woe-is-me moment about the hand he had been dealt.
Kent was beloved in every role he played on this earth: son, father, brother, friend. Is it cliche to say they made him and broke the mold? Maybe. But it’s true.
Funeral services for Joseph Kent Dowell were held at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, January 7, 2017 at Carter Funeral Home Chapel, under the direction of Carter Funeral Home, Inc., West Plains.