R. Kent Polfer, 72, of Leawood, Kansas passed away Wednesday, May 19, 2021 at KC Hospice House, Kansas City, Missouri surrounded by his loving family following a sixteen year battle with prostate cancer.
Kent was born February 11, 1949 at Providence Hospital in Kansas City, Kansas to Roy and Julia Kelly Polfer. He was the youngest of four children and was raised on the Polfer family farm, a place he loved and maintained until a few months before his death. As a child, Kent enjoyed tagging along with his older brother riding horses, camping, and accepting the occasional dare such as entering a bull riding contest or fetching an enormous rock from the bottom of a deep pond. Mostly, he enjoyed the competition of playing sports with his older brother and friends. His favorite sport was basketball which became a lifelong passion. As a senior at DeSoto High School, he was named a top 100 All American high school cager by Basketball Yearbook. He was also the Kansas Scoring Leader his senior year.
Kent graduated with undergraduate degrees in business and political science, and a Master of Business Administration degree from Kansas State University. He was a member of Delta Tau Delta fraternity and served loudly and proudly as rush chairman, president, and ace volleyball spiker. He was a K-State sports fanatic in general, and an expert statistician of 1950’s K-State basketball in particular. It was at K-State that he met his future bride, Barbara VanAllen.
After graduation, Kent began his professional career in the finance department of Business Men’s Assurance. In 1974, while at BMA, Kent took over the operation of the Polfer farm due to his father’s failing health. He sat at a desk until 5PM and then sat on a tractor until the farm work was done, often until midnight. When Coldwell Banker opened its Kansas City office, Kent pivoted to real estate brokerage. He gained valuable experience in marketing multifamily land while there and also made many lifelong friends and hunting buddies. He will be remembered as the first CB Poet Laureate.
Kent and Barb were married on June 28, 1980 following a lengthy courtship that included a college transfer for Barb. Kent established Polfer&Company Commercial Real Estate Services a few years later in 1983, again specializing in multifamily property sales and land for multifamily development. Kent always teased that he was “Polfer” and Barb was “&Company.”
While operating his own business, Kent had the flexibility to coach youth basketball, an avocation he took very seriously. He taught the fundamentals, ran drills like a sergeant, and expected his players to show up on time and do their jobs, always reminding them that defense wins games. He was proud of the multiple league championship titles his teams won, but the cards and letters he received from former players and their parents regarding the life lessons he taught meant more to him and were the real proof he had been a successful coach.
Kent and Barb welcomed their first daughter, Leigh, in 1985 and their youngest daughter, Kelby, in 1988. Strong fathers help to create strong, confident women and Kent took his role seriously. He was so proud to be their dad (and basketball coach). His daughters chose their mates wisely and Kent was delighted to become the father in law and friend of two extraordinary young men. He bragged that he finally had some extra testosterone in the family. He was also proud to be the grandfather of three granddaughters who adored him and affectionately called him Ticky.
Kent was an avid hunter of upland game and enjoyed running his dog, Maddie Lou, through the fields, thickets, and hedgerows of Phillips County, Kansas. He loved the camaraderie of the hunters and farmers with whom he built decades-long friendships. Like his father, he was a great story teller, even when telling the same stories he had told many times before. And his quick wit and ready laugh were as fast as his aim.
Kent was preceeded in death by his parents and a sister, Beverly Polfer Smith. He is survived by his wife, Barbara VanAllen Polfer, of the home; daughter Leigh VanAllen Cleaver (Tommy), Washington, DC; daughter Kelby Lorraine Stehl (Alex), Prairie Village; and granddaughters Carson Anne Cleaver, Whittaker Lorraine Stehl, and Kennedy VanAllen Cleaver; sister, Janice Kelly of Olathe; brother, Walter Neil Polfer (Mary) of Pittsburg; and his faithful dog, Maddie Lou.
A celebration of Kent’s life will take place on Friday, June 4, 2021 at 11AM in Kent’s barn at the Polfer Farm; 8820 Cedar Niles Road, Lenexa, with a reception following the service. Boots are welcome. The city of Lenexa prohibits parking along Cedar Niles Rd. Valet parking is available.
The family would like to thank everyone for their prayers, cards, plants, and meals during Kent’s recent battle. Your generosity meant so much to the entire family. We would also like to thank the staffs of KC Hospice and Palliative Care and the University of Kansas Cancer Center for their compassionate care. We especially want to recognize Dr. Manish Kohli for his innovative treatments which allowed Kent additional years of priceless time with family and friends. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial donations to KC Hospice and Palliative Care, Village Presbyterian Church, or Pheasants Forever. www.pheasantsforever.org