John Kent Gelarden, 51, passed away unexpectedly Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014, at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Highland.
Kent was born on Sept. 14, 1963, in Owensboro, Ky., to the late Lee Edward and Erna Loraine (Dooley) Gelarden. He married Evelyn Marie Broussard on May 12, 2012, currently residing in Edwardsville.
Kent proudly served 20 years in the U.S. Air Force, attaining the rank of Master Sergeant. His jobs included firefighting, Sensor Operator and Special Operations at NATO in Desert Storm, retiring in 2003. He was an active member of the Shriners of East St. Louis, playing soprano trumpet with the Drum and Bugle Corps since 2001. He joined the Masonic Blue Lodge 504 of Fairview Heights in 1999. In 2003 he joined the National Harley Owners Group and became a member of the Alton HOG Chapter of Illinois, serving as director from 2007 to 2009. For the past two years he has worked as a police dispatcher for the city of Madison.
His profound respect and knowledge of guns served him well as an instructor to others. His lifelong passion for riding motorcycles took him to many places and many lasting friendships. He was always quick with a witty joke and overflowing glossary of humorous knowledge. He had a huge heart and it was extremely evident in the way he embraced his family and friends.
Kent lived with a fervor for life with unquestionable integrity, honesty, fierce patriotism, and standing up for all that is good and just in this life.
Kent is survived by three daughters, Leea Marie (Nicole LaVerne) Gelarden of Troy, Kayla J. (Andrew Paul) Lorentzen of Marine and Sherri Lynn (Richard Dale) Franklin of Troy; brother, Kelly Lee (Susan Diane) Gelarden of Brownsburg, Ind.; eight grandchildren, Micah, Joey, Joshua, James, Ashley, Hannah, Zoe and Zach; niece, Megan DiAnn Gelarden; nephew, Ian Patrick Gelarden; and his former wife of 23 years, Michelle Lee Brown.
Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 25, 2014, at Elias, Kallal and Schaaf Funeral Home in Bethalto, where funeral services will be conducted on Friday at 11 a.m. Sept. 26, 2014, with Mike Gowin officiating.
Burial will follow at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis.
Memorials may be made to the Shriner’s Hospital or St. Louis Children’s Burn Camp.
Online condolences and guestbook may be found at www.eliaskallalandschaaf.com.