President | Director
Kent’s passion for rivers and conservation began early. Active outdoors as a teenager, he participated in a grassroots effort to stop construction of a dam planned for the
ecologically vibrant Middle Fork of the Vermilion River in Central Illinois. The Middle Fork is
today Illinois’ only Wild and Scenic River and is home to both unique and endangered species.
Kent is proud of his small role in keeping it free.
In 1974, while a student working for the Illinois State Museum, Kent travelled to the Ozarks for the first time, assisting with investigations of spring deposits along the Pomme de Terre River (before that jewel met the fate of a dam). As part of team researching late Pleistocene archaeology, geology, and paleoecology, Kent had an opportunity to explore many things great (mastodon remains) and small (pollen deposits over the ages). Through that experience, he came to accept two truths: (1) Central Illinois is unreasonably flat, and (2) our environment is at once sacred and consequential. His passion and work for the Mill Creek Watershed Coalition is in furtherance of the latter.
His work fighting dams impelled Kent into law school at the University of Illinois, where he graduated in 1979. From there, his heart having been forever captured by the Ozarks, he promptly moved to its foothills, buying a small farm on Mill Creek in Phelps County, Missouri, where he lives today. Kent often marvels that, where he was born, you can be ankle-deep in water and not see your toes, but you can go neck deep in dirt and not find a rock. He now lives in a reverse world.
Kent practiced law in Rolla for thirty-five years as an owner and managing partner of the law firm Williams, Robinson, Rigler & Buschjost. From there, he “retired” in 2013 to become CEO, President, and Chief Legal Officer for Phelps County Bank, roles he continues in now. Kent is proud that his bank remains the only one in the country that is owned 100% by its employees. He remains of counsel to the law firm he founded in 1980.
With his wife Maureen, Kent enjoys beekeeping, hiking, and playing in the creek with frequently visiting grandchildren. He considers himself truly blessed to live in a community with such precious resources, surrounded by others who care. The Mill Creek Valley will be his final home and resting place.