Kent Dana passes away at 80 years old

Dana anchored evenings at 12 News for 25 years and was a Valley establishment.

PHOENIX — A celebration of life is being held for Kent Dana, the face of the night information within the Valley for 3 many years, on Wednesday at 10 a.m.

Dana died on April 19 after he suffered issues from a January hip surgical procedure and handed away – surrounded by his household.

The celebration of life will likely be streamed on and

The native TV information icon leaves behind his spouse Janet of 42 years, their two kids, and 4 kids from his first marriage. He had 13 grandchildren.

Kent Dana Celebration of Life

Family and buddies honor the legacy of former 12 News anchor Kent Dana throughout a Celebration of Life ceremony this morning.

Posted by 12 News on Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Mr. Little Arizona

A 1954 Arizona Republic newspaper clipping comprises a assessment of the Phoenix Little Theatre’s rendition of the play, “Happy Time.”

“Young Kent Dana stole the show,” the article states. “After the first awkward moments, he warmed to his role like a veteran and turned in a capital performance. In his hands, the questionings and yearnings of a boy of twelve seem altogether natural. He has a very lovable personality.”

That 12-year-old boy would develop as much as be probably the most recognizable face in Phoenix tv information historical past.

Throughout his career, Dana lined tales on Phoenix airwaves from Oklahoma City’s terror explosion website, the Los Angeles riots, and Barry Goldwater’s lounge. But he’ll probably greatest be referred to as a fixture on the anchor desk throughout an period that native tv information dominated rankings.

Kent grew up the third of seven kids in a modest home close to Central Avenue and Thomas Road, now the positioning of the historic Willo District.

During the Forties and ‘50s, Phoenix was nonetheless growing an identification.  And so was Kent.

As a youth, he bought donuts door-to-door, was a paperboy for The Arizona Republic, and spent summers as a building employee on properties within the Arcadia neighborhood and Christown Mall.

When he was 5 years old, Kent gained the “Mr. Little Arizona Pageant” at the historic Orpheum Theatre. 

Around 10 years old he discovered his area of interest as an actor at the Phoenix Little Theatre in downtown Phoenix, now known as the Phoenix Theatre Company.

Kent performed a task in “The Remarkable Mr. PennyPacker” and was awarded “Best Child Actor” for the year.

Growing up in Phoenix

Kent wasn’t significantly athletic and used to inform the story of the year he tried enjoying little league baseball. 

“One game I finally got a hit. I was so ecstatic I promptly ran to third base,” Kent used to say when retelling the story.

As an elementary pupil, he recalled strolling to highschool along with his brothers and sisters via a dairy area the place Park Central mall now sits.

“We rode our bikes everywhere, up and down Central Avenue all hours of the day in the summers,” mentioned Kent’s youthful brother, Reed.

At 14 years old, Kent took his father’s automobile for a pleasure experience and crashed it.

“That was Kent. He was just a little more willing to gamble in life,” Reed mentioned.

As an grownup, Kent incessantly instructed the story as a lesson in parenting.

“I waited at home expecting to get in big trouble from my dad,” Kent would say. “But he calmly sat me down and asked me, ‘Did you learn your lesson?’ I said yes. That’s all that needed to be said.”

Later Kent’s father purchased him a ’36 Plymouth for $75 {dollars}. On weekends, Kent and his buddies participated in a ceremony of passage for Phoenix-area teenagers that lasted many years: cruising Central Avenue and hanging out at the Bob’s Big Boy.

“Kent had so many friends he would bring home. Everyone liked him. For me I was so proud to have my brother in my own high school,” Reed mentioned.

College and a career in broadcasting

After graduating from West High School in 1960, Kent attended ASU for a year and went on a two-year mission to Uruguay for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. After returning dwelling he ultimately transferred to Brigham Young University the place he studied broadcast journalism and labored at a Provo radio station.

Kent’s Father, Joe Dana, laid the groundwork for Kent’s curiosity in broadcasting. He was a butane vendor and radio announcer for KOY Radio. He launched a weekly selection present on Channel 5, “Arizona Caravan,” the place he delivered information bulletins, sang songs, and hosted musical friends.

“When he started his variety show on Channel 5, we didn’t have any money so our family had to go out and buy a TV so we could watch dad on Wednesday nights,” Kent instructed an viewers in 2018. 

After school, Kent labored stints managing gasoline stations, filling in as a radio announcer, and dealing for KOOL-TV as a weekend anchor. His large break got here in 1979 when he joined 12 News because the male night anchor. He started a formidable streak of anchoring the night information from 1979-to 2004. In 2005, he anchored for CBS 5 for an additional 5 years earlier than retiring.

Kent’s son, Joe Dana, adopted his footsteps in broadcast journalism and has labored for 12 News as an anchor and reporter for 20 years.

“He always felt like local TV news provided a connection to the community that was unlike anything else,” mentioned Joe Dana. “And I think the fact that he was doing this job in the community where he grew up made it that much more meaningful to him.”

Kent additionally believed native TV information was very important to creating a way of group.

“To the younger generation of the broadcast community, I want to tell you this. We all know that TV newsrooms are changing,” he mentioned to an viewers in 2018. “Despite the changes, some things have never, ever changed. The ability to find a good story and to tell a good story. And that hasn’t changed at all.”

It was by no means about awards

Throughout his career, Dana gained a number of Emmy awards, was inducted into the Arizona Broadcasters Hall of Fame, and obtained the Rocky Mountain Emmy Governor’s Award in 2018.  He was fast to credit score the producers and photographers who work alongside him. During a 2018 Emmy Awards speech, he attributed his success to his co-anchors and a longtime producer, Julie Frisoni Shumway.

“She kept my life in order,” Kent mentioned at the time.

Shumway credit Kent for figuring out her expertise whereas she was an intern at 12 News and guaranteeing administration employed her after school.

“I consider Kent like a second dad,” Shumway mentioned, whose father died whereas she was in highschool.

“I think a lot of people view Kent as a figure kind of larger than life. But when you knew Kent Dana he was absolutely the opposite of that. He was hilarious, he was warm and would give you the shirt off his back,” Shumway mentioned.

Shumway and Dana labored collectively for a number of years creating the 2 signature initiatives Kent was most happy with in his career: Wednesday’s Child and Silent Witness.

The Wednesday’s Child sequence was a partnership with Aid to Adoption of Special Kids (AASK). Kent profiled kids within the foster system and the tales drew consideration to adoption efforts basically. The tales introduced out Kent’s interior baby as he would banter and snicker with youngsters. They additionally helped viewers see the humanity of foster kids.

“Hundreds or even thousands of kids found a permanent home because of Kent Dana,” Shumway mentioned. “AASK would tell us they would get hundreds of phone calls after a story aired and maybe it wouldn’t work for that child, but it would develop a relationship for parents to adopt someone else.”

He liked to snicker

Everyone who knew Kent remembers his loud, cackling snicker that would gentle up the newsroom.

“He was the best audience in the world. I could make a joke about anything and Kent thought it was hysterical. And I’m not that funny,” mentioned Jineane L’Ecuyer, who labored with Kent from 1986-to 1999.

Kent’s motto was, “Take your work seriously but don’t take yourself too seriously.”  That very best was mirrored in his annual Christmas custom of carrying a shiny crimson plaid jacket on-air. He bought the jacket from Sears in 1979 and over the years, it shortly went out of fashion. But carrying the jacket grew to become a convention that viewers appeared ahead to each vacation season.

“It got to the point where viewers would call us and ask, ‘When is he going to wear the jacket?’” Kent mentioned.

Putting his household first

Kent’s easy-going, resilient perspective set the tone at dwelling as effectively.

“When he dealt with the six of us, if we ever disappointed him or did something to stress him out, he was always calm, cool, and collected,” mentioned Susan Allen, one among Kent’s daughters.

Despite his public persona, Kent was his kids’s greatest fan. He typically slipped away from the newsroom between night newscasts to catch his kids in ball video games, dance recitals and faculty performances, even when he may solely keep for a couple of minutes.  Showing up for them and guaranteeing their well-being was his precedence. It’s a perception he says he realized from his father.

“My father once turned down a very lucrative contract to move to Los Angeles because he thought that wasn’t the best environment. We always came first in his life and that made a difference,” he mentioned.

Kent additionally acknowledged his spouse Janet’s sacrifice, being married to somebody with such a novel job for 3 many years.

“It’s not easy being the spouse of an evening anchor and leaving the house at one in the afternoon or so every day and being gone all evening,” Kent mentioned in 2018. “She was in charge of the household and kept the family in line and I’m very, very proud of her.”

So it is becoming that she has the final phrase.

“Kent remained humble in spite of being put on a pedestal by so many,” she mentioned. “His infectious laugh, his ability to put everyone he met at ease, and his sincere interest in others made him special and irresistible.”

RELATED: Mesa household who adopted 5 kids honors Kent Dana

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