The Aurora Sertoma Club honored Kent Walston with its Service to Mankind award for 2012 at a dinner at the Pompano Club. The award is the highest honor given to a non-Sertoma member for exemplary service to the community.
Walston is a Port Neches native who graduated from Port Neches Groves High School in 1979. After a brief stint at BF Goodrich Tire Company, he joined the Navy. Upon his return home, he joined the Port Arthur Police Department. He attended Lamar University, earning a bachelor of business administration, then became the assistant city manager for the City of Nederland. At the age of 35, he enrolled in Baylor Law School. After graduating from law school, he worked for the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office for two years trying criminal cases. He is currently in private practice with the law firm of Branick, Walston and Devenzio.
He serves on the Jefferson County Bar Association with a focus on pro bono services and fund raising for those who do not have access to legal help. He serves on the board of directors of CASA and his hobbies include woodworking. Every year he builds a bed and dresser for a child who receives a home from Habitat for Humanity.
Walston is truly a self-made man who rose from humble origins and overcame many obstacles along the way.
“I was raised in Port Neches, Texas, and spent every day after school and every day in the summer working as a stable hand and jockey for a local doctor who owned race horses,” he said. Since Walston is not a small man, his future prospects as a jockey were limited. Others sought to impose limitations on him that he would eventually realize were not true.
“Having been told by school counselors that I was not college material, I never considered college,” he said. While in the Navy, he attended Delmar College at night and received a certificate in law enforcement and worked part-time as a deputy sheriff for the Bee County Sheriff’s Department.
Those experiences set the stage for his future career path. While serving as a PAPD officer, Walston began taking night college classes at Lamar in Beaumont and soon realized that college was not beyond his capabilities. He made the Dean’s List several times and was appointed by faculty to the Lamar University advisory committee for the school of business.
The true beneficiaries of his life experiences and desire to help others are the people of Southeast Texas. In addition to serving as an associate judge for mental competency hearings in Jefferson County, he is the presiding judge for City of Nederland Municipal Court.
Walston takes justifiable pride in his work as the current president for the Hughen Center for handicapped children and has served on the board of directors for the past six years. He is the past president of the board for the Bob Hope Charter School — a nonprofit charter school that benefits the Hughen Center. With his wife Davilyn and family, he spends time with the kids at Hughen Center to ensure they are well cared for. This commitment of time and effort is substantial, but Walston describes it as a “labor of love” he finds very rewarding.
Kent Walston spends more time walking the walk than talking the talk, and even his many friends have little idea as to the extent of his ongoing acts of service. The folks at the Aurora Sertoma club – itself an active service organization – found out and bestowed the Service to Mankind award upon him. He richly deserved the recognition but in reality, they could give him that prize every year. n
— James Shannon