Ken Trent, who reshaped Spokane’s Volunteers of America into one of the largest nonprofit agencies in town, was found dead of an apparent heart attack Monday at his home.
Trent, 67, retired last year as head of the Spokane VOA, which runs The Spokesman-Review Christmas Bureau and several apartment complexes for the mentally ill, chronically addicted and AIDS-afflicted.
Trent’s longtime friend, attorney Jim Gillespie, said the Volunteers of America was a faltering organization when Trent took over.
“He just turned the VOA around,” Gillespie said. “He worked long and hard. You never heard a peep, complaint, murmur. … He was just a rock solid guy.”
Friends and acquaintances described Trent as one of the most caring people they’d ever known.
“He has an astonishing circle of admirers. Many of his best friends are people we call his clients,” Marilee Roloff said of Trent when she replaced him as VOA director last July.
“He was absolutely selfless,” said Gillespie, who had known Trent since high school.
Julie Trent, one of his three daughters, agreed.
“He was always there no matter what,” she said. “He was not a judgmental person. He always cared about everybody, no matter what their circumstances or background.”
Julie Trent said she arrived at her father’s home for an afternoon visit on Monday and found his body.
Trent raised his daughters, Julie, Amy and Sarah, by himself after his wife died of cancer. He is survived by his daughters and a 10-year-old granddaughter, Tawney Nakamura.
Last year, Trent was singled out among 9,000 VOA employees nationwide to receive the organization’s leadership award in honor of his 22 years of service.
At the VOA, Trent managed money for dozens of people who couldn’t handle their own finances. He also was one of the driving forces behind Crosswalk, an organization founded in 1985 to help street children.
In an interview last year, Trent said: “People need help and they should be helped. If you can help them in whatever way you can, you do it.”
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