His wings were earned: Former mayor and 29-year airport board member honored
MIDLOTHIAN — In the midst of rising change and seasonal transitions, former Midlothian Mayor George Kent was celebrated for his 29 years of board membership at Mid-way Regional Airport.
“This event is for George Kent who has been on the airport board for 29 years,” stated Judy Demoney, Mid-way Regional Airport’s Manager, during the Feb. 9 ceremony.
“The airport, which is owned by two cities, Midlothian and Waxahachie, and has three members from Waxahachie and three members from Midlothian. George has been a board member since 1987 before there was even an airport here because he was the former mayor of Midlothian doing the planning and everything,” she explained.
Kent, who served as mayor of the City of Midlothian from 1979-1987, retired his position after falling ill while battling cancer. Although Kent’s physical ailments slowed him down, he continued to help the aircraft facility mature into what it is today.
FIRST DAY ON THE JOB
Recalling his first day on the job, Kent was more than willing to do his part — even if that meant he had to be a life-long learner.
“After I left the office as mayor, they approached me and said they had a vacancy on the board and asked if I would like it. I said, ‘Sure if I could be of help,’” Kent reminisced. “On one of two occasions we had had a ‘you do this, you do that one,’ but most of the time it was serving whatever needed to be done. I thoroughly enjoyed it, because I feel like I returned a little back to the city and county because they needed someone."
“Of course, it was a learning experience too because I had never flown much, so I thoroughly enjoyed that. I started out when it was just a bunch of white rock here. People in both cities had lots of visions, and you wondered if it would ever happen, but then you look at this and see how it got started, and it’s really gone, and we’re just seeing the early bud of the blossom,” Kent added.
Although the airport’s growth thrived as the board began bringing in diverse planes and building runways and hangars, the public’s knowledge of its identity was oblivious to its establishment.
“Down through the years when I said, ‘I’m on the airport board,’ a lot of people would go, ‘What airport?’ It’s kind of one of those things that have sat here quietly but grew. I’ve heard somebody say, ‘It’s kind of like a child, it sits there and just grows, and you don’t pay any attention to it and then all of the sudden – there it is,’" he expounded.
Understanding the airport’s importance to both Midlothian and Waxahachie, Kent divulged the subject further.
“As our city grows and more and more people come in, I feel like we’re going to be an asset to our communities and provide them with quick transportation, as well,” he stated.
Sitting as the honored guest, Kent was greeted and celebrated by fellow airport board members of past and present, along with a few Midlothian officials.
“I probably can’t come up with all the right words for George to say thank you,” announced Kyle Ballard, Mid-way’s Chair of the Board, to the gathering.
“Thank you for the unbelievable service that you’ve committed to this organization and airport, as well as both communities of Midlothian and Waxahachie. It goes without say that you have been the pioneer for this airport and I believe you were mayor when this whole idea was originally conceived, and since, George has served on the airport board for I believe 29 years and that mark may never well be surpassed,” he continued with a chuckle. “He’s been such a tremendous asset for this airport and communities, and he is as well-spoken as he is passionate. Thank you, George.”
Adding to the domino effect of compliments, each attendee went about the room, praising Kent and his service.
“I can’t believe I was just in diapers when you became mayor,” joked current Midlothian Mayor Bill Houston. “That’s not true, but I will say that you’re my mayor, you’ve always been my mayor. And we do appreciate your 29 years here. That’s a long time and the vision that you had - we really do appreciate it. You’re a treasure for all of us, George.”
“For four years we had been working on those hangers out there, and because of your vision, we topped out over 40,000 operations last year. So we’re not a ‘mom and pop’ airport by any means,” applauded Demoney.
Mayor Houston added "George has had a great impact on this airport. He was one of the visionaries of getting it going and having this done. The last three years he’s has had some health problems and has not been able to be here, but we wanted to make sure for a lifetime that he can come out any time he wants. He still has a good vision, if his body doesn’t work anymore, his mind still does, so we’re blessed to have him."
In presenting the Appreciation Award to Kent for his support, help, and dedicated service to Mid-way Regional Airport from 1987-2016, Ballard and the joint airport board awarded him with a beautiful, honorary plaque.
“We also want to make sure that you know you are always welcome here and you will never be treated any other way than an esteemed board member,” added Ballard.
“George, I talked to Kevin and Michael, and we’re going to have you as a lifetime member of this board. So they are going to conduct business on a regular basis but, anytime you can come out, you’re more than welcome,” agreed Mayor Houston along with the congratulating group.
In addition to all the praises, the airport board also recognized Elizabeth Kent’s contribution to the successes of her husband.
“As a man with a great spouse, I would love to recognize Elizabeth. She’s been a great support for us as well,” acknowledge Ballard with a smile.
“She was always our baker at our Christmas parties and always worked the pancake breakfast. We certainly appreciate that and you can still come back and work the pancake breakfast,” Demoney playfully teased. “We love you, and you can come by anytime that you want.”
Grateful for the award, Kent returned the kindness by saying, “I want to thank each one of you for giving me the chance to return just a little bit of what the airport board has given me.”
“I have thoroughly enjoyed it, and I always look forward to coming to the meetings. Sometimes I didn’t say much, but a lot of times I would sit there and absorb some of the details I wasn’t familiar with and then sitting there listening to some that did fly. I’m just sorry I got puny here, and I told Judy, ‘Well, I’m going to get rid of this thing,’” he said, referencing his walker, “and come back but it doesn’t look like I’m going to shed it anytime soon. It's good Judy was able to fill the vacancy, so I look forward to hearing more and more things about what’s going on out here.
“I had accomplished a lot of things that I probably thought I never would, as far as being on the board and being able to serve as long as I have. I know I’ve always told the City Mayor and Secretary when my three years would roll up if you have someone else that you think can do a good job or even better, well, don’t feel like you’re hurting my feelings whatsoever,” he chuckled. “And I guess they just finally found a square peg that fit in a round hole and decided to leave me there, but it worked out real good.
“I think that with the way that the city and county are growing, we’re going to see a lot more going on here, more and more continents flying in their people here,” he ended with a grin, honored to have been apart of Midlothian’s monumental period.
To connect with Midway Regional Airport, visit mid-wayregional.com or call (972)-923-0080.
Chelsea Groomer, @ChelseaGroomer