In Memory of Kent VanSooy

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Steve Bledsoe
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In Memory of Kent VanSooy

Post by Steve Bledsoe » September 5th, 2015, 8:18 am

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Kent VanSooy
June 23, 1957 - September 4, 2015

Many visitors to these forums, even if they were here for only a short while, were treated to Kent VanSooy’s humor, knowledge, and of course, his beautiful photography. He shared so much of himself with us. Those of us who were lucky enough to know him personally have lost a great friend, but even more than that, our community has lost a genuinely wonderful man. The following sentiments from one of Kent’s friends and associates, convey what all who knew Kent as a friend surely are feeling for his loss:

“I find it terribly difficult and painful to reconcile that such a wonderful, gifted and talented person with a mind full of so much information, so much wisdom and experience, such kindness and compassion could just be gone in an instant. But such is life.
The world has lost a great biologist, naturalist, conservationist, herpetologist, husband, friend and an all around wonderful guy. I am truly honored to have been able to call Kent VanSooy my friend and he will be sorely missed by a great many people who loved and respected him.”
Noah Anderson

For those not fortunate enough to have known or have had the opportunity to meet and get to know Kent, it can be said that he was truly a gentleman and a scholar. Here in Kent’s own words is his autobiography that he authored a few years ago for the SWFHA website:

“Kent is a native Californian who graduated with a BS degree in Zoology from Long Beach State, where he studied herpetology under Dr. Richard Loomis. He has spent the last 25 years working in the biotechnology field, but has retained the study of native reptiles and amphibians as an enthusiastic avocation. Kent believes that data and information are key to understanding the natural world, and that a more thorough understanding will help land-use managers and government agencies develop balanced policies toward native reptiles and amphibians. He enthusiastically supports introducing young people to the beauty of our native herpetofauna, and helping them form an appreciation of the vital role they play in our ecosystems.”

Kent was equally as passionate about hiking, exploring new places, riding his bike, and sportfishing, an activity he very much enjoyed with his young grandson. He was one of the first herpers in our state to acquire a California Native Reptile Captive Propagation Permit, and one of the very early supporters and proponents of NAFHA and the HERP database project. He served for two years as the first VP of the fledgling NAFHA California Chapter with our first President, Jeff Lemm. Kent then went on to serve as the CA Chapter President for the following two years.

During his tenure as CA Chapter President, Kent was solely responsible for making contact with Kevin Bernard at the Escondido Creek Conservancy, and organizing the chapter’s first (and possibly NAFHA’s first) herpetological survey project for a private land management organization. He continued that effort in initializing NAFHA projects with the Fallbrook Land Conservancy, and the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy.

In 2009, Kent was solely responsible for reaching out to the research team at U. C. Davis that had been contracted by the CA Department of Fish & Wildlife to review and update the California Reptile & Amphibian Species of Special Concern list (ARSSC). This personal effort by Kent resulted in the first data request and release from the HERP database.

Kent was one of the founding members of the Southwestern Field Herping Associates, a USGS volunteer under the sponsorship of Dr. Robert Fisher, and one of only two amateur herpetologists selected by Dr. Thomas Jones of the Arizona Game & Fish Department to take part in a department sponsored citizen science data gathering experiment.

Those of us who knew Kent personally are very fortunate indeed, and those of us whom he considered to be friends are richer for the experience.
Below are a few photos taken of Kent from over the years. Please honor the life and memory of Kent by posting your thoughts, photos and memories of our beloved friend here on this post.

Thank you for visiting



Camera in one hand, snake in the other - Just the way he liked it!
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Kent and Jack Goldfarb in Zonata-Land
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Gathering serious Frog vouchers with Jeff Lemm
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Panamint country with Lee Hull
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Encounter with a Big Lizard
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Shootin' the Bull
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Boa close-ups
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The Happy Hog Hunter and his lifer kennerlyi
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Vouchering a lifer Desert Box Turtle
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One of Kent's favorite photos of himself
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A big one that didn't get away! (California Yellowtail)
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In The Field With Friends
NAFHA outing, Shelter Valley, Anza-Borrego State Park, September 2008
Seated clockwise - Kent, Bill 'Billboard' Townsend, Billy Townsend, Jeff Lemm, Dave Sheldon, Jonathan Hakim standing
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Scott Waters
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Re: In Memory of Kent VanSooy

Post by Scott Waters » September 5th, 2015, 9:00 am

Can I create a blog post for Herp Nation out of this? I'd like it to be planted on Herp Nation for eternity. What a great man. I'm at a loss for words.

scott

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Re: In Memory of Kent VanSooy

Post by monklet » September 5th, 2015, 9:05 am

I never had the pleasure of meeting Kent in the person, but through this forum, have known him to be a man of sterling character ...someone I loved and respected for his words and deeds alone, and the kind of person this world sorely needs more of. A peer in age but someone I always looked up too. My heartful condolences to his family, close friends, and the many who have known him and will miss him.

Thanks Steve for this tribute. It must be very tough for you as his long time friend.

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John Delgado
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Re: In Memory of Kent VanSooy

Post by John Delgado » September 5th, 2015, 9:17 am

Myself being new to field herping as of May 2014 ... then finding this wonderful site FHF ... I knew immediately the immense presence of a one Mr. Kent VanSooy.

I found it remarkable that he answered some of my thread posts and commented on some of my voucher entries in NAHERP. I knew immediately that he cared about the future of field herping and reptile research.

I never had the pleasure of meeting this man, and yet I am saddened to tears as I write this ... for I know he was loved and will be terribly missed by all.

Mr. Kent VanSooy - RIP

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Re: In Memory of Kent VanSooy

Post by MarcLinsalata » September 5th, 2015, 9:37 am

I met him twice in person and that's all I needed.....

RIP

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Re: In Memory of Kent VanSooy

Post by hellihooks » September 5th, 2015, 9:55 am

I served as Con Off and Ed Spec, under Kent, and a finer President we will never have. And a finer man there will never be.

While not a close personal friend of Kent's, like many here... Kent and I had a few 'ties that bind'... only 6 months apart (to the day, I think) in age (57's rule)... we both suffered helli bites, both had degrees in neurophysiology, and both worked towards the common good of herps. difference is... things that I am ok, or even good at... Kent was GREAT at... from photography, to his professional life, to the way he treated everyone (including me) with kindness and good will.

All that I ever hope to be... Kent already was. When mired in contention and controversy (as I often was) I would literally sometimes ask myself... "What would Kent do?"... and then do that... and things would always be better. :thumb: Hopefully one day, I'll be half the man Kent was.

As most here know... there's a guy on these forums that I went round and round with, and he and I have not spoken for years... till today, when we buried the hatchet, united by our mutual respect for Kent. How very fitting that Kent, even in passing, made the seemingly impossible happen. :shock: :thumb:

I will miss you, my friend... RIP.

In a world full of mutts.... THIS was Kent VanSooy... :beer: (for those who don't know... this was bred by Kent)
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Re: In Memory of Kent VanSooy

Post by Fieldnotes » September 5th, 2015, 10:35 am

My heart felt condolences to family and friends, he will be missed.

ramblon
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Re: In Memory of Kent VanSooy

Post by ramblon » September 5th, 2015, 10:37 am

I'll miss you my friend.

http://www.fieldherpforum.com/forum/vie ... =6&t=22262

See you on the other side.

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Re: In Memory of Kent VanSooy

Post by ricrabt » September 5th, 2015, 12:04 pm

Yes he will truly be missed. The herping community has lost one of the greats....

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Re: In Memory of Kent VanSooy

Post by Brian Hubbs » September 5th, 2015, 1:54 pm

This is just so hard to believe...I had to call his house a few minutes ago, just to hear his funny phone message one last time and to leave my condolences. I didn't know Kent that well, but well enough to know he was a good person and a good herper. This just sucks... :(

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Re: In Memory of Kent VanSooy

Post by Noah M » September 5th, 2015, 4:45 pm

I never met Kent, but I remember his posts and online presence was kind and gentle. I always enjoyed his avatar too. It is always hard to lose somebody you love, but it is harder to lose somebody who was so passionate about this work.

You will be missed.

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Re: In Memory of Kent VanSooy

Post by JAMAUGHN » September 5th, 2015, 8:32 pm

All my best to Kent's family and friends. I wish I could have met him; he made a great impression on these forums.

JimM

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Re: In Memory of Kent VanSooy

Post by Porter » September 6th, 2015, 5:47 am

I never met Kent in person and have only had a few short exchanges with him on the forum. He was one on those guys you could easily tell was genuinely a good person. From what I know about him, sounds like a pretty cool dude. May his journey from the pond be an adventurous one...

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Re: In Memory of Kent VanSooy

Post by Fundad » September 6th, 2015, 9:54 am

For me personally this is a lose of someone I considered a friend. Kent and I usually went herping together about once a year and we didn't mention where we were going to anyone or where we went after returning. I have been to Mexico with him, Mountain ranges very few go too, top boa locations, private board lines, and more. We traded places we wanted to show each other that were private to us. He was always trust worthy to keep a location to himself, and never shared those places even with his best friends. That is a rare trait. I don't herp with too many people, and I most certainly don't share locations with all but less than a handful of people. Kent was one of them.

Kent was always kind hearted, and he always provided for me the proper perspective on number of issues. I looked up to him because of this and my presidency of this chapter has been greatly influenced by him, as I have unsuccessfully tried to fill his shoes as president. I have been proud to try to follow his lead. Kent has been with us since the beginning and is one of co founders. Much of what you see with the database and with NAFHA is, in part due to Kent and his efforts.
When there was anything going on with HERP or NAFHA that I needed an outside view on, Kent is always the person I turned to for advice, outside perspective, and input. Not a single major decision has been made on my part, without Kent's thoughts being involved. Needless to say here, not only did I lose a friend, I lost a mentor. I will miss him.

Thank You Kent for being a personal example to me and for being a real and true friend.

Rest In Peace, and I look forward to herping with you again on the other side!
I Will Never Forget You!

Your Friend
Brian

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Re: In Memory of Kent VanSooy

Post by RobertH » September 7th, 2015, 6:51 pm

Nicholas and I are very sad that Kent had to pass. I will always be grateful for the support he gave me, and especially Nicholas, in our early years. And his natural, elegant style of herp photography has been, and will continue to be, a source of inspiration for Nicholas. We feel privileged that, by sheer luck, we had the chance to spend a day in the field with Kent in AZ just a few weeks ago. Kent, we will never forget you.

Robert and Nicholas

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Re: In Memory of Kent VanSooy

Post by ZantiMissKnit » September 8th, 2015, 7:10 am

My heart goes out to the family and friends of Kent. I have never met him, nor do I think I spoke with him via the forums, but I enjoyed reading his posts and his articles. He was a major part of our community.

Andrea Howlett/NE Chapter President

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Re: In Memory of Kent VanSooy

Post by Steve Bledsoe » September 10th, 2015, 12:33 pm

Back in 2010, Kent initiated contact with, and began building a relationship with the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy, located in San Diego County. Over the years, Kent and friends conducted surveys to help the conservancy monitor its Arroyo Toad population, and set up study sites to record herp species on parcels of the 3,700 acre conservancy. Kent also organized and led herp walks and herp lectures to help educate curious members of the public who wanted to know more about the world around them.

The conservancy manages wild lands along the 55-mile long San Dieguito River watershed, from its headwater springs on Volcan Mountain, to the San Dieguito Lagoon on the Pacific Coast at Del Mar. The river system is the most intact watershed remaining in San Diego County. Born in 1986 from a grass roots movement driven by 10 original members from the communities of Solana Beach and Del Mar, the SDRVC today is comprised of over 1,300 members and volunteers. The organization is on a steady track to accomplishing its goals of expanding the San Dieguito River Park to 92,000 acres, and completing the 70-mile long Coast to Crest trail from the ocean to Volcan Mountain north of Julian.

Like most conservancies, the SDRVC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit conservancy that relies heavily on donations and fund raisers. At the suggestion of family, the conservancy has set up the “In Memory of Kent VanSooy” donation fund. If you were thinking of sending flowers or trying to think what you could do right now for Kent and his family, donating to this fund would be a wonderful thing to do. I can’t think of anything that would make Kent happier.

You can navigate to the donor site via this link. http://sandieguitorivervalleyconservanc ... form1.html
Click on the “In Memory of Kent VanSooy” button on the FUND menu, choose the amount, choose a payment method, and leave your contact info if you desire. Kent will put in a good word to the Snake Gods for you.

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Re: In Memory of Kent VanSooy

Post by Jeff Lemm » September 14th, 2015, 7:06 am

I'm still having trouble discussing this, so I apologize for my lack of posting. I was also in Baja when I got word of our great loss. It is difficult to lose a friend when you are gone and even more difficult to receive the call from your 12-year-old, who can barely muster the words to tell you due to his own tears. I felt Kent with me on Isla El Muerto the day of his passing and photographed one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen as I thought of the great man we lost that day. You will be forever in my heart, old friend.

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Steve Bledsoe
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Re: In Memory of Kent VanSooy

Post by Steve Bledsoe » September 14th, 2015, 7:22 am

Welcome home, Jeff.
Sorry it had to be under such sad circumstances.

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Re: In Memory of Kent VanSooy

Post by jonathan » September 20th, 2015, 9:30 pm

Thank you for sharing that wonderful post Steve. This has been on my mind a lot since I first heard the news.


Of all the herpers I knew, Kent was the best person. I realized that the first time I met him a little over 7 years ago, up until the last time I saw him a couple months ago when I briefly was in California. I think he probably influenced more people with fewer words than anyone else in our chapter. I will miss him.

My heart goes out to you Steve, to Jeff, Bill, and the rest of you who knew him more intimately than I did.

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Re: In Memory of Kent VanSooy

Post by Fundad » September 21st, 2015, 9:38 am

Jonathan Wrote
I think he probably influenced more people with fewer words than anyone else in our chapter. I will miss him.
Yes he did, not only with NAFHA but with friendship with many other as well..

We all will miss him, and it is our loss. My heart really goes out to his wife, family, and close friends that were close to him, as well.

I can't believe he is no longer with us. :(

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Re: In Memory of Kent VanSooy

Post by Steve Bledsoe » September 21st, 2015, 5:10 pm

jonathan wrote: Of all the herpers I knew, Kent was the best person.
Yes he was, Jonathan. Kent set a standard for decency, understanding and compassion that many of us (especially me) will never meet.
Sometimes you don't realize how special some people are until you lose them. Like Fundad, I'm finding it very difficult to come to grips with the fact that he's actually gone.

Everyone here is welcome to Kent's Celebration of Life this coming Saturday. Please come out if you feel like it.
We only ask that you RSVP so we can have a good idea how many friends to expect.

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Re: In Memory of Kent VanSooy

Post by hellihooks » September 22nd, 2015, 5:52 am

I'd so like to be there... but my truck ain't up to the trip and no one else (i know of) from the hi desert is going. :(

So instead... I'm meeting a venom researcher to gift him my female desert-phase helleri, for research purposes... i think Kent would like that. :|

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Re: In Memory of Kent VanSooy

Post by ratsnakehaven » January 25th, 2016, 7:31 am

Steve, thanks for posting these photos. Kent truly was a beautiful person. He touched the heart of everyone he met, including me. I will never forget him and miss having him in our ranks, along with other herper friends we have lost.

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Re: In Memory of Kent VanSooy

Post by Steve Bledsoe » January 25th, 2016, 8:16 am

Thank you Terry.
I'm still having trouble dealing with the fact that he's gone. This upcoming season is going to be strange working without him on the survey projects we started together.

Here's to a rewarding and safe 2016 herping season for all of us. :beer:
Steve

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Re: In Memory of Kent VanSooy

Post by Fundad » January 26th, 2016, 11:43 am

He is still thought of by myself as well. I am sure the herping and fishing is great in the place he is at.

Fundad

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