Ralph Kent, an Industry Veteran Known for His Technical Mastery, Dies at 70

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Ralph Kent
GETTYSBURG, Pa.—Ralph Garman Kent, Jr., an optical industry veteran whose diverse career spanned nearly five decades, died on Feb. 14, 2021 at Gettysburg Hospital here. Kent, who lived in Gettysburg, was 70 years old. Kent was born April 16, 1950 in Johnstown, Pa., the son of the late Ralph Garman Kent, Sr. and Priscilla (Goebert) Kent. He began his career in the optical industry at Bausch + Lomb after graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 1972.

Over the next 10 years, Kent developed both his sales and marketing abilities, as well as his technical knowledge. He worked for the wholesale laboratory Luzerne Optical as a sales manager from 1979 to 1981.

In 1984, Kent was hired by Multi-Optics, which later morphed into Varilux, to introduce the first successful progressive lens in the U.S., Varilux II. His involvement included training in prescribing and fitting Varilux II, as well as overseeing the certification of hundreds of eyecare professionals throughout the Eastern U.S.

Kent joined SOLA Optical in 1986 where he helped create the technical services department and field technical services department for the lens maker. He also provided technical assistance for laboratories and professionals in the U.S., South America and Canada. Later, he became the director of polycarbonate products for SOLA Optical and helped introduce the new material in the industry.

Kent also held executive positions at Signet Armorlite and PPG Industries. In 1993, Kent joined Younger Optics as director of technical services and new product development where he was responsible for the commercialization of NuPolar polarized lenses. He rejoined Luzerne Optical in 2006, where he served as sales manager until his death.

Kent served as a member of the ANSI Standards Committee, Polycarbonate Council, Sunglass Council and AR Council. He participated in volunteer work through Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity (VOSH), Mission Vision, No Child’s Vision Left Behind Program and the Pennsylvania Association for the Blind. He also provided educational training for over 20 years as a certified ABO speaker and has authored or co-authored more than 25 ABO-accredited continuing education programs.

In 2018, he was inducted into The Vision Council Lab Division Hall of Fame.

Survivors include his wife, Donna Kent and son, Garman Kent. Funeral services were private. In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to the Adams County SPCA, 11 Goldenville Road, Gettysburg, Pa. 17325. Online obituary and condolences are available at www.monahanfuneralhome.com.