Kathy came into my office with tears in her eyes. “You must be so sad,” she said. She was right.
My friend Kent Antley just died of a heart attack. My heart breaks, and I am praying for his wife, Barbara, and his family. But my heart also breaks for our community.
I asked Kathy, “Why are you so upset?”
Wisely she observed, “You, Kent, and many others worked together to build the Atlanta technology community. And now, one by one, your contemporaries are passing away. The continued health of the community is truly being passed on to the next generation.”
I met Kent in 1995 while we served on the Business & Technology Board of Directors. We were both in our forties. I was in my early forties, and Kent was in his late forties. The tech community was finally being recognized by the state as an economic engine.
B&TA’s High Tech Month of Georgia finally achieved a reasonable budget approaching $500k. For the first time, we were supported by some of the biggest tech players in the city, including AT&T and IBM. The timing was perfect as preparation for the Olympics was happening at the same time.
Kent was at the heart of it all.
Kent, along with some other members of the board, began working on what would become the Technology Association of Georgia. The seed of the idea came from Chris Coleman, founder of FolioZ, a red-hot advertising firm specializing in technology.
I remember sitting in planning meetings. In the midst of the chaos and visioning, Kent was always the steady hand. He brought all of us crazy entrepreneurs to a practical and doable next step. Without him, I am certain it would not have happened.
I was so impressed with Kent.
I wanted him to be my lawyer. He was a man of unusual kindness, intelligence, caring, and calmness. He was the man who put together most of the deals I invested in. He then continued as our lawyer through the multiple rounds of financing and finally the exits. He made it all easy. He helped make it all go.
As the community grew, Kent had to pick his spot. He became an early sponsor and active member of the MIT Forum. Jim Black, one of the founders of the Forum and also a high school classmate of Kent’s, wrote to me and said, “To acknowledge his more than a decade of remarkable service, the Forum Executive Committee awarded him the Chapter’s first Life Membership in 2010. This well-deserved honor was a big surprise and thrilled Kent.
“In every respect, Kent was always a gentleman, whom the Forum will greatly miss.”
Kent gave generously but quietly.
I asked Kent to be a major contributor to my work in Uganda. He and Barbara never hesitated for a moment. They jumped right in. Kent was very quiet about all the people and causes he supported. It was just who he was. He didn’t want accolades. He just wanted to help, to serve, to make a difference in people’s lives.
After Kent’s passing, I received this comment from Tyce Miller, the founder and CEO of MobileMind, one of the companies I recently invested in. Tyne is the next generation of Atlanta leadership. He said, “Oh, no. Man, I am such a fan of his.”
I was a fan of Kent’s, too.
Anyone who knew Kent was a fan. And the reason we were all such great fans was because we all knew Kent loved us and was for us all the time.
Kent was one of those men I hope my sons will one day become.
He was a loving husband and father.
He had a successful legal career in which he was loved and respected by his peers and his clients.
He was a servant to the tech community and, with Barbara’s help, the greater Atlanta community.
He was a volunteer leader in his church, involved in several capital campaigns.
He served as a table host for fifteen years for the High Tech Prayer Breakfast.
Kent impacted me and thousands in Atlanta tech.
He did it in business. He did it for Christ. He did it with grace, truth, and love. My prayer is his legacy will carry on to the next generation of Atlanta leadership. Then we can be sure Atlanta will be a light of the world, a city on a hill which cannot be hidden.
Rest in peace, my friend. I know you are in the arms of Jesus. Someday we’ll see each other again.