OBITUARY: Kent Emal was lifelong educator; 41 years in UNK Communication Disorders Department

Kent Emal
Kent Emal

Kent C. Emal, 77, of Kearney, was surrounded by his family as he went to be with his Lord on Friday, March 16, 2018, at the Good Samaritan Society – St. Luke’s in Kearney. Celebration of Life Services will be Friday, March 23, 2018, at 10:30 a.m. at the Living Faith Fellowship Church in Kearney.

Rev. Duane Osnes will officiate. Graveside services and burial will follow at 1:30 p.m. at the Minden Cemetery. Visitation is planned Thursday, March 22, 2018, from 5-7 p.m. at Horner Lieske McBride & Kuhl Funeral and Cremation Services in Kearney and also one hour prior to services at the church on Friday.

Memorials are suggested to the family for the development of the Kent Emal Communication Disorders Scholarship at the University of Nebraska at Kearney.

Please visit to leave a tribute or message of condolence. Horner Lieske McBride & Kuhl Funeral and Cremation Services are in charge of arrangements.

Kent was born on February 27, 1941, to Clayton and Frances (Anderson) Emal of Minden. He graduated from Minden High School in 1959 and then went on to earn his degree in business from Kearney State College in 1963. After college, he taught for two years at Hebron High School before moving to Denver, Colorado, to attend the University of Denver for his Master’s Degree in Speech Language Pathology. After graduation, he moved back to Kearney to accept a position at Kearney State College as an assistant professor of communication disorders. He continued his education at UNL, where he completed work for a doctorate, but due to health issues never completed his dissertation.

While teaching at Kearney State College, he met Karen (Junker) and they dated for 11 years before they were united in marriage on August 14, 1982. Kent and Karen welcomed their first daughter, Jamie, on December 16, 1983. Their second daughter, Sarah, arrived on March 20, 1986. Kent also has a biological son, Doug, born on November 11, 1963.

Kent taught for the Communication Disorders Department at KSC/UNK for 41 years, beginning in 1967 and retiring in 2008. He continued to teach a CDIS class through 2009, before fully stepping away from teaching and education. He was pivotal in the grant and design of the Speech-Language-Hearing bus, and impacted thousands of students.

He was a member of the Nebraska Speech-Language-Hearing Association and was humbled when he received honors from the organization. He was also a member of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and was a strong advocate for stutterers and was part of the National Stuttering Association. Throughout his years at KSC/UNK, Kent loved to attend as many Loper events as possible with his family. After retirement, Kent found enjoyment in driving a RYDE bus. His favorite part was getting to pick up and drop off kids for school.

Kent faced many health battles, from heart disease, strokes and dementia, but always had a positive outlook on life and his family motto has always been “Chin up.”Despite his health, he loved traveling with his family and made it to all 50 states; his last state to visit was Alaska, which instantly became his favorite. He also traveled to many international destinations with his sister, Janice; Morocco and Switzerland being the ones he spoke of most often.

Kent’s faith and family were the most important things in his life. He was a lifelong member of the First Christian Church, Disciples of Christ, first in Minden and later in Kearney, and he also became a member of Living Faith Fellowship Church in Kearney. Kent enjoyed his family traditions of season tickets to Husker football games, making potato bologna every Christmas, playing Som-R-Set at any get together, Storm Hockey games and movie nights at home with popcorn.

He loved Kearney and was an active community member prior to his health deteriorating. He volunteered for the United Way of Kearney and was a member of the Elks until his death.

Surviving relatives include his loving wife Karen of Kearney; daughters Jamie Hiemke, husband Aaron, and Sarah Bartling, husband Andrew, both of Kearney; biological son Doug Larson, wife Crissa, of Haxtun, CO; grandchildren Macie Bartling, Baby Hiemke, Carly Daniel and Josh Larson; and many family members and friends.

He was preceded in death by his parents, sister, numerous aunts, uncles and friends.

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