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Today, our hearts are broken.

Webster City suffered an unimaginable loss Saturday with the passing of Webster City Assistant City Manager and Recreation & Public Grounds Director Kent Harfst in a bicycling accident. The staff of the Freeman Journal wish to extend their deepest sympathies to both the Harfst family and the community.

Kent Harfst epitomized the role of the servant leader. He wasn’t the loudest in the room, but he was able to be effective by listening and being interested in people’s problems. He didn’t just listen though, he was exceptional at taking steps to solve problems and get things done.

In his role as the Recreation and Public Grounds Director, Harfst was instrumental in guiding the renovations at Wilson Brewer Park, getting bicycle and walking trails in place, and organizing and planning for the times when RAGBRAI went through Webster City. He also organized health fairs and other programs at Fuller Hall and mentored many young people who worked for the city as lifeguards or at the recreation center.

Fuller Hall should be considered part of Kent’s legacy. His leadership in making sure that the recreation center was a place for not just recreation but for fitness and health education for all ages will be sorely missed. It is due to Kent’s hard work and dedication that Webster City has a recreation center that is the envy of towns twice our size.

It would be impossible to list everything that Kent Harfst did for the community. As Assistant City Manager, Kent took on the full responsibilities of City Manager during two recent vacancies. This was in addition to his other duties. This helped make the transition between city administrations smooth and seamless. His calm and thoughtful voice during City Council meetings will also be missed.

Kent was also willing to help when it didn’t involve his professional duties. He was a friend to many, even when he didn’t know them very well. He was a life-long Webster City resident, and made the community proud. There are many stories about his kindness in helping someone who needed it, whether it was help getting up steps after they returned home from the hospital, or making a phone call when he knew someone needed reassurance and support.

What Kent brought to the community wasn’t flashy self-promotion, but his presence. He was always where he was needed, ready to listen and help, however he could. He was compassionate, he was caring, he was the heart of our community.

Today, our hearts are broken.

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