The world has lost a truly great husband, father, teacher, author, and patriot. R. Kent Tipton passed peacefully in his Sonora, California home surrounded by loving family on May 11, 2020. During his 77 years, Kent led a life filled with laughter, service, sacrifice, creativity, leadership, a thirst for knowledge and, above all, an unwavering commitment to his beloved wife, his family, and service to God.
The youngest of 4 siblings, Kent Tipton was born in Springville, Utah on September 20, 1942 to Blanche and Norman Tipton. While his mother added the additional name of ‘Richard’ during his early childhood, the name Kent was how most knew him.
Kent spent his youth pursuing creative adventures with his friends — whether it be building a boat to chart the waters of a local pond or competing in ‘tire rolling’ contests, his ideas for fun seemed boundless. Kent graduated from Springville High School in 1960 and then served his country from 1960-62 as a member of the Army National Guard where he was called to active duty during the Berlin Crisis.
In 1962 Kent was called to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, spending 30 months in the Taiwan Taipei mission. Throughout this calling, Kent immersed himself in his work, falling in love with the Taiwanese people and culture. He dedicated himself to his teachings and the language, learning to not only speak fluent Mandarin, but also to write it.
Kent’s mission experience led him to dedicate his collegiate studies in the pursuit of a double major in both Chinese Language and Asian Studies at Brigham Young University. One of Kent’s senior projects included translating an entire book from Mandarin to English. While at BYU, he met the love of his life, Lois Karen Bonham. The two were sealed in the Salt Lake Temple on September 1, 1967 and, shortly thereafter, both graduated from the college.
The newlyweds soon moved to California so Kent could pursue graduate school, completing his Masters in Education from CSU Bakersfield in 1974. As the couple grew their family, Kent worked in a variety of teaching and administrative roles, until leaving education to lead an international publishing and financial advisory firm in 1978, eventually taking on the role of President there. During this time, Kent was able to share his love for the Chinese culture with Lois during a business trip to Mainland China, where he also served as translator and tour guide.
Kent’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to start his own successful company in 1987. Eventually, Kent’s love for education returned him to classrooms in 1993, ultimately completing his career as Principal of Jamestown Elementary in 2006.
Throughout his life, Kent also dedicated himself to tireless service in his church and community. He was a constant participant in the Boy Scouts of America program, leading a multitude of activities in support of local youth with his can-do attitude toward personal growth and life skills. Kent was also called to serve in a variety of Church capacities, including that of Bishop of the Sonora First Ward in 2014. He gave each and every assignment the best of his time and talent, bringing a warm smile and welcoming ear to all those he served.
Kent’s athletic pursuits in his youth, coupled with his leadership skills, enabled him to coach each one of his 4 sons in a variety of organized sports, including soccer, football, basketball, and baseball. Throughout his life both he and Lois found great pleasure in cheering on their Alma mater in all collegiate sporting events.
In addition to all of his life’s pursuits, Kent was also an accomplished writer. He published more than 10 fiction and non-fiction books. Kent’s writing won him the Mayhaven Award for Children’s Fiction for the first novel in his ‘Kid Posse’ series. His most recent fictional work, ‘The Journal’, was published August 5, 2019.
In retirement, Kent and Lois have been able to enjoy extensive travel together throughout the United States, exploring points of interest and history in 30 states. He also took incredible pride in home improvement efforts and a variety of woodworking projects — most of which he gave away as gifts to friends and family.
Kent will be remembered by the thousands of people he has touched — through his church service, his decades in education and private business, his written works, and the extensive family he leaves behind — for his sense of humor, intelligence, leadership, can-do attitude, and creativity. However, he will be remembered most of all for the love he will always have for his wife, his family, and his God.
His brother Jay, mother Blanche, and father Norman predeceased Kent. He is survived by his wife Lois, brothers Gary and Dean, sister Marjorie, sons Jared, Erik, Shane, Jay, daughters-in-law Dusti, Keri, Jenny, and his eleven grandchildren: Madysn, Connor, Riley, Carter, Tyler, Jacob, Hannah, Paige, Isaac, Hailey, and Noah.
A private family memorial service will be held on Saturday, May 16.
Life Story Info
Cause of Death
Religion and Beliefs
Master'sBrigham Young University
Words cannot express the love and gratitude I have For Mr. Tipton and his entire family. For many years I was lucky to participate in various activities and have always held him and his family to very high regard. As everyone knows, his love for family, friends and God was always above all and his incredible love for wife and sons has always been undeniable. It’s admirable the involvement he’s had with his sons, the antics, the jokes...and I wish, as so many others do, to be the father, son and friend as he has always been to so many others.
His life was a testament to how the Savior wants us to live. I will be forever grateful to have known him. Brother Tipton meant a lot to my family and helped us in too many ways to count. Sonora lost a favorite son this week. The Sierra hills & mountains are ringing for him and your family this day.
Lois, Jay, Jenny, and Tipton Family,
Words cannot describe how sorry I am for your loss and the love I have for Brother Tipton. He was a rock in my life. He was a true influence of positivity and goodness. I love him so much and looked up to him as a father figure in my life. He is one of very few people beyond my family that touched my life in such profound and meaningful ways. I cried so much when I heard the news on May 11th of his passing. He was such an influence of good and showed so much love to me throughout my youth. When I got married in the Portland Temple he and Lois sent me such a touching card with a generous gift, and I could feel how much they regretted that they could not be there due to a conflicting trip. I felt so loved even after all the years since my youth.
Before I knew him as Brother Tipton, Mr. Tipton was my 8th grade teacher at Jamestown elementary. He was such a wonderful, fun teacher that inspired family values and a love of literature. He would read us great books such as “The Hatchet” and would provide such devotion to his students. I remember fondly an old black (formerly white) gym sock with red stripes that he would use to wipe off the ink from the transparent overhead projector slides. We all got a kick out of that. My friends and I were on the basketball team and he would pause during recess to write out plays on the chalk board and give us pointers on how to improve. He would often referee the games when the refs could not make it. I loved being in his presence. I loved going to his class. He had such a positive influence on me that I wrote and delivered a graduation speech about him saying he was the kindest, most fun teacher I ever had. It was an honor to speak of him at 8th grade graduation.
One memory that stands out for me is an assignment he gave towards the end of the 8th grade school year, which was to write letters to our parents, thanking them for the support they gave us through elementary and middle school. The letter meant so much to my Dad that he framed it and hung it on his wall for years. Those were the family values he taught us young adolescents. As we would leave class he would always say “be good to your mothers” and would often share his respect for moms, especially his own mother, which was beautifully reflected in his book about his mom.
In 9th and 10th grade, sometimes I would go down to Jamestown elementary in the late afternoon after school to play basketball and I would stop by Brother Tipton’s classroom to say hi. Each and every time he would greet me so warmly by saying “Hey Trav, what’s happening man!” and was always so excited to see me and would welcome me in just to shoot the breeze.
When I was introduced to the church he was the first one in our home giving me and my family the new-member discussions. It was so helpful and comforting to have a warm, familiar face teaching me the the gospel for the first time. He went out of his way to make my transition into the church meaningful and memorable.
Most memorable and impactful to me, was his ongoing support of me as his home teaching companion, which blossomed into a lasting friendship. He was a mentor and father figure to me. He would pick me up faithfully each and every month to go visit the Von Savoy’s, Brother Farlough, Sharron and Robbie, and others. Those trips in his big blue truck meant so much to me. It’s amazing what a little time does on a young boy’s mind and heart when spent with a caring father figure. We would laugh and talk about the gospel. I was so new to the gospel and he would answer my questions and let me take the lead on the lessons with the families we home taught. I learned so much about the gospel from preparing and delivering those lessons. It wasn’t just church and gospel topics we would speak of during our home teaching trips. Anything that was on my mind he would listen and laugh with me. I loved riding in that blue truck. He would tell me of the good memories he had in that truck where he and Lois would take road trips and he said Lois would put her feet up on the dash and eat pistachios on their long road trips. Every time he spoke of Lois he did it was such a smile on his face. He felt so lucky to be married to her. It was really wonderful to see someone so happy and in love with their wife. Brother Tipton would also speak so highly and with such pride about his sons. I remember feeling he was the head of a very loving and lucky family.
A few times on hot days we would go out home teaching and would stop at a gas station to get big fountain sodas. He had his ashtray full of loose change and he would bust that open and grab a handful of coins to use to buy us big fountain sodas. We would also stop and get ice cream sometimes. It was really fun.
I felt so welcome at his home. Sometimes I would just stop by and he would be working in the yard with his chain saw and he would be so happy to see me.
One day in particular we were heading back to his house after home teaching and he said to me if ever I needed to get away I would always be welcome to stay at his house in the spare bedroom. He knew my circumstances growing up in a single parent home in an apartment must have had its challenges, and for him to open up his home to me was such a kind gesture and made me feel loved…like I was part of his family.
In church, during testimony meeting, he would always mention me by name when giving his testimony as a member of the bishopric, saying how thankful he was for our friendship and companionship as home teachers.
Lois, Sister Tipton, you were always so kind and welcoming to me. Your hugs and love meant so much to me. Where would I be without the Tiptons? I thank you so much for opening your home and heart to me and my family. You and Brother Tipton would come to me and my brother’s plays at Sonora High, and support us in all of our endeavors. You loved my brother, sister, Mom, Dad, and me so much.
I have so many fond memories of Brother Tipton. I thank you for sharing your Dad and husband with me. I love him forever. I find comfort that he is on the other side of the veil, laboring to bring others to the truth. I feel impressed that he is working with my own father who passed away in 2011, teaching him the discussions, and encouraging him to accept the ordinances performed by me and my siblings for him vicariously in the Portland Temple shortly after my Dad's passing.
I love you all. Lois I love you so much and thank you for everything you and Kent did for me and my family. I miss him so much and am so grateful that he dedicated his life to serving others like me in such profound, meaningful, and lasting ways. God bless you all. I look forward to the day to be in heaven with my friend.
With love and deepest sympathies for your loss.
Ann & I are saddened by the loss of our dear friend and very faithful home teacher.
Kent & Lois or some of the time Kent and one of his sons were so faithful to visit us in our home at least every month without fail.
When we moved to Eastern Wyoming to a little town there called Douglas in 2007, Kent and Lois even came to our little town for a visit. We were so thrilled to have visitors from Sonora, some 1,200 miles away. In fact Kent & Lois were our only visitors from Sonora, other than our family members in the six years that we lived in Wyoming.
Ann and I send our sympathy, condolences, prayers and love to Lois and all of the Tipton family. We love each one of you. We are thankful for our faith that we know that life is eternal and the best is yet to come. May God Bless each one of you with peace & comfort at this difficult time of sorrow and loss.
So sorry to hear about the passing of Kent, we were just talking about him this past weekend with Sue Lyon.
We loved Kent, Lois and the kids when they lived in Pleasanton, we were in the same ward and worked together in Scouting, Kent was also so enthusiastic, happy and it was contagious. Some of our kids were the same age, so that was fun too, I believe Eric and Brian were the same age and good friends. Working with them in Scouting was lots of fun.
We were sad when they moved to Sonora, but knew they loved it there.
Our condolences and love to Lois and the family.
Ken & Carolyn
You were my favorite scoutmaster and Carolyn was like a second mom. I was at your house every weekend jumping on your trampoline, and eating your food. Your family has a special place in my heart. I was between Janelle and Brian in age I believe. I hope your all healthy and happy!
Thanks for the kind words.
Love you all.