In Memory of Kent J. Sheets, Ph.D.

Kent Sheets
Kent J. Sheets, Ph.D. 

During an already stressful time, we are saddened to share that Kent J. Sheets, Ph.D., professor,  passed away on March 16, 2020.

 Kent was a stalwart in medical education for decades. As our clerkship director, he shepherded so much education in this important field for our students. He was a champion for high standards in medical education, but also a kind, endearing soul and a friend to many of us. He also was an amazing connector to students through many vehicles, especially the Galens Medical Society.

 Kent will be missed in countless ways. We remember his smile, his hearty laugh, and the incredible impact he had on both students and colleagues and reminding us that at some point, baseball season will begin.

Share your memories and thoughts here



Kent was one of those people who always seemed to be in high spirits and spread that joy to those around him. He was passionate about his work and teaching, elevating family medicine to a whole new level among medical students and connecting mentors to mentees. He will be missed, but his energetic spirit will be carried on in everyone whose lives he touched throughout his years of service.

Priya Gimbel

He was one of the first people to make me feel welcome in the department! Such a smile and sense of humor!

Diane M. Harper

Kent knew how to cut to the chase and put humor into everything he did. He brightened up all the committee meetings, departmental forums and even the emails that he sent. It was a pleasure to work with him and this place will not be the same without him.

Zora Djuric

Kent, Thank you for all the good work you've done in family medicine. Many of us clinicians aren't able to come even close to your contributions to the department. I pray you are up in a better place now. you will always be remembered here.

Gus Toma

Kent was such a good guy and mentor. He will be dearly missed. I’ll never forget how as a med student I had a childcare crisis on the morning of my family med shelf exam and showed up very, very late. I was panicked and he told me not to sweat it and then later pulled me aside and gave me some perfectly “Kent” life lessons that really stuck with me. He exemplified that family medicine people are really good people.

Kate Meixner

Kent is one of the reasons I came to Michigan's Family Medicine Department. I remember starting to look for my first non-military job in 1996 and encountering Kent at STFM and being blown away by the educational expertise that he possessed and the fact that a Family Medicine Department could have someone like that to improve its educational programs. As a young residency director Kent was invaluable in helping me develop new skills, curriculum, etc.... Kent's fingerprint is on everything we do in education here in Family Medicine at the University of Michigan.

Eric Skye

Devastated... Gone far too soon... I'll always value the mentorship, the guidance, the reality, and the creative tension Kent and I shared. We did some amazing work together locally and nationally to push Family Medicine forward. I remember the day he interviewed me in 1999, the many conversations about sports, movies, and music, and just those little comments and quotes that we recycled throughout the years. His knowledge of trivia was unparalleled, and he frequently tried to one-up me (and usually did). I'll always cherish the baseball games, conferences, meals, and laughs we shared. I'll keep my promise to him in that I will never play Free Bird at any gig, but regret that I couldn't manage to bring back a Mickey Mouse ice cream bar from DisneyWorld (unmelted). Kent was a true friend, brother, advisor, and will remain a legendary presence in our department forever.

Joel Heidelbaugh

What I admired about Kent is how he always advocated for the medical students. He wanted to assure that they had a learning opportunity that respected them as professionals in training - whether that meant making certain they had a place to sit, to making certain faculty received useful student feedback, to making certain that community preceptors felt valued so they would continue to open their practices to Michigan Medical students. We must keep his voice in our heads as a conscience to help us value the clerkship students and respect their learning needs and keep alive the tradition of having the most highly rated clerkship be Family Medicine year after year. 

Christa Williams

I remember mostly working with Kent Sheets on the medical student review boards, and when I was the working on Medical School diversity and career development programs. He was always a valued colleague and will be missed by so many. As an example of his continued value, I heard of his sudden death from the current Hamilton-Univ. of Michigan Family Medicine Fellow (Community Medicine Fellowship), Essa Alsharif who was singing his praises for a recent faculty development/leadership talk he gave and was shocked to learn of his sudden death. His will be a hard act to follow.

Dave Gordon

Kent was always a strong advocate for our learners and helped us do our best for them. His enthusiasm and passion were contagious. He will be missed.

Michelle Rabideau, MD

Dr. Sheets made a specific effort to seek out every presentation I made at a national level. Having a friendly and supportive face in the audience made being a new presenter easier. He is the definition of a mentor.

Miranda Huffman

Kent Sheets was the first person who told me: You need to be a Family Medicine doctor! when I was a M2. He served as a wonderful motivator, mentor, and constant supporter of me and our field. I can think of no greater cheerleader for Family Medicine. His smile, sports stories, and stories from years past will be greatly missed and fondly remembered.

Keri Denay

It's hard to pick just one memory of Kent. He was a coach, a sparkplug, and a mentor for so many of the people and things that make Michigan Family Medicine special. I certainly remember the day I brought our family's pet rabbit, Domino (a litter-trained house bunny), to the office. Domino hopped down the hall and spent most of the morning hanging out in Kent's office. It wasn't just golden retrievers that knew a good soul when they saw one.

Lee Green

I was working late in the ER when Kent came in for an asthma issue. I remember him making a point to find me, so he could give me a hard time. A stressful moment was reduced by laughter. Much of this laughter was, of course, due to his love for Michigan State University.

Jon Lake

Kent’s death is certainly a great loss for the department and for all of us, even if separated by a number of decades. He, like many of the leaders of the department, was is able to mix great humor and great leadership. I will certainly remember his love for his work and for all of us as a residents In lectures, softball games, and informal gatherings. It was a privilege to have him as a teacher and a friend.

Bob Vermaire (1986) and Marcia

Kent knew everyone. And even if it had been years since he saw you, he could share a story about you with the other people gathered around him. His never waning smile drew everyone around.

Kristi VanDerKolk

Kent inspired many of us in Family Medicine. He set a high bar for the FM clerkship. My regret was that my time at Michigan predated FM and his work. I admired his work from afar and at STFM meetings. He set a lasting foundation. For this I'll always be grateful, for as an alum, I'm proud of the place the DFM has at UM. May his spirit live on! 

Elizabeth A. Burns, MD, MA

What I will miss the most about Kent is hearing his hearty, upbeat comments that reverberate across the auditorium during grand rounds - he always brought levity to the discussion, which was a great reminder also for us to take ourselves less seriously and have fun. It is Kent's warm soul and optimism that we need the most right now.

Justine Wu

A one-of-a-kind individual. This box doesn’t have enough space to describe the impact he has had on many and the true advocate for the Family Medicine Department and the medical students that he has mentored. Kent always made everyone feel valued. He always teased me about umbrellas- today I’m going for a long walk with my umbrella and will be thinking of him. 

Alisa Young

Kent was remarkably engaging in conversation. I'm gonna miss him.

Mike Johansen

I knew Kent from the moment he arrived in Ann Arbor and quickly recognized all these traits mentioned above. He was one of a kind. Kent often joked he was Nationally known; Locally worthless. The first was true but not the second. His impact has been immense and will carry us forward even in his absence. I must admit to being irritated and envious of his remarkable memory; he could recall an embarrassing anecdote from your life at a moment's notice. Let's all conduct ourselves as though he is evaluating us (1-5) from above!

Jim Peggs

In 1982 the new Department had already been criticized for using its meager resources to employ “non-clinical-revenue-producing” faculty. Dale Lefever (the first “non-producer”) urged the recruitment of a second of his kind to further development of the Department’s educational programs. Never has better advice been given or a more worthy asset gained. Kent was one of the founding pillars on which the current Department rests. He was also a beloved friend and colleague who will be sorely missed.

Terence C. Davies

I got to know Kent my first year of medical school 18 years ago, and he saw me through, in many ways, med school and residency. He made a point of emailing me here in Africa every time my undergrad alma mater was having a good basketball season, and it was a joy every time to connect with him again in Ann Arbor. He is also the only person I've ever known to order a double scoop at Washtenaw Dairy (he thought everyone else's giant single was a double). We just told that story the other night... Kent, you are missed. Thank you for your friendship and your faithfulness to your work.

Eric McLaughlin

I've known Kent since I was a medical student here at the U of M in the early 90's and he has been a mentor to me for decades. He was the famous but approachable face of U of M Family Medicine, loved and respected by all. He would inquire about my children and their bball/hockey/lacrosse games--he truly connected with so many people at much deeper levels that one would expect from such a busy and distinguished PhD. He always had my back, even if my opinion was less popular than the majority vote. I will miss his sense of humor, wisdom, strong work ethic, and, most of all, his kindness.

Kristina Gallagher

He was an amazing educator and champion of family medicine. I personally benefitted from his faculty seminars and our procedure rotation is a direct result of his teaching and encouragement.

Scott Yaekle, MD

Kent was a wonderful mentor and a tireless advocate of family medicine especially at the med school level.  He provided a rich connection to our departments great history and we will miss him. 

Tara Master-Hunter

I have had the privilege of regularly interacting with Kent and asking for his advice ever since I assumed the role in faculty development. I will miss his mentorship, humor, and sharing our personal experiences. 

Mas Jimbo

This is truly tragic. I have always enjoyed Kent's company and his sense of humor. His enormous contribution to the academic mission of the department is undeniable. However, it is on a personal level, that his presence made a real impact, be it at a meeting, or at the Family Medicine picnic, or on a one-one level. Being in the group of (non-MD) minority in a Medical department, I had sought his advice on many occasions upon my joining the department several years back. He was my go-to person on many career-related queries. I gained a lot from his advice. And his positivity was infectious. 

Raising a glass to Kent and his sense of humor,

Ananda Sen

What I shock! I am truly saddened to hear this. I also knew him for only a short time through the FDI however he seemed to be a truly lovely person and dedicated teacher. He will be missed!

Razel Remen

Our community has seen no greater champion of Family Medicine—and Family Medicine education—than Dr. Kent Sheets, an unparalleled leader, mentor, friend and curmudgeon.

We should all honor is memory by matching his commitment to excellence in teaching, service, and community with one another.

Phil Rodgers

Though I’ve only know Dr. Sheets for a few months through participation in his esteemed FDI seminars, I feel a heartfelt connection with him. A warm, kind, humorous soul. I’ll cherish the knowledge he gave us during our classes and pay it forward. He wouldn’t want it any other way. 
Essa Alsharif

Very sorry to hear of Kent's passing. My condolences.

Frederick Kron

It is difficult for me to put into words how tremendous of a loss this is to me and to everyone who knew Dr. Sheets. I was lucky enough to get to know Dr. Sheets as a medical student, and he is one of the main reasons that I became interested in family medicine and medical education. As an intern, he would meet with me on an almost monthly basis to help provide guidance on how to develop myself as a future physician educator, and what I appreciated most was that he always gave me honest, genuine advice. He always wanted what was best for me and never forced me down any particular path. He was one of my biggest supporters, and it is difficult to think that I won't be able to meet with him to gather more of his wisdom. His mentorship was invaluable to me, and his advice will stay with me forever. I can't imagine not being able to see all of the pictures, certificates, sports memorabilia, and life-size cut out of Dr. Grum in his office, each with a story he would love to share. He will be so missed.

Julie Blaszczak

I have great memories of Kent's warmth and his enthusiasm. He made it fun to be a resident in the program and genuinely cared about each of the residents as individuals. I always enjoyed catching up with him at conferences and return trips to Ann Arbor. My heart goes out to his family. They should know that he touched many of us deeply in his wonderful career with the department.

Larry Hall

I am saddened to hear of Kent's passing. He had a great impact on me, as a resident in the department in the '90's, as I know he had for many, many others. I was fortunate enough to maintain some contact with him through the years, due to my involvement in the student clerkship rotation. I know he was pleased by my children's decision to attend his alma mater, Purdue. Kent's passing marks a great loss to the department and all who are touched by it, both professionally and personally. We are all fortunate enough to have had the chance to know and work with such an outstanding educator, and fine man. Boiler Up, Dr. Sheets!

Ken Grimm, Residency 1994-97

I will remember him for his humor and hearty laughs, and of all, his dedication to medical education. He will be missed, no doubt. May he rest in peace... and heartfelt condolences to his family in this time of grief.

Satoko Motohara

My condolences to you and your colleagues. I cannot imagine the depth of loss for Dr. Sheets' family, friends, and colleagues who were close to him. I am so thankful to have learned from his wealth of experience, advice, and profound dedication to students and education. You both were an incredibly welcoming and supportive team for me and my student colleagues during our rotation in December. Condolences during this very difficult time.

Paulina Devlin

It was inspiring to read all the comments about Kent. He touched so many lives with his humor, his knowledge, and compassion. I was there when the Department was in its major growth phase. Kent was so critical to the success of our educational missions. Thank heavens he was there to guide us along and add his unique sense of humor along the way.

Francine Bomar

Kent was not only a co-worker, but a friend to all. I remember him coming to all my son’s football games in Chelsea. He and my husband would stand by the light pole for the games. He will be missed. 

Gail Finch

What a loss to all. Kent was my life long best friend. We met at either 4 or 5, neither of us could remember. To me, he was just Sheets. We were inseparable as kids. All we thought about in our early years was sports. We played in any weather. Football, basketball and baseball. His Cubs against my Giants. His Boilers against my Hoosiers. He was and still is, a friend to everyone he met. He knew no stranger. We will see each other again, rest in peace my brother. 

Matthew Spickelmier

Dr. Sheets was a remarkable human. He was one of the first people I encountered in the Family Medicine department when I got involved in the Family Medicine Interest Group as a medical student. He was influential in my decision to pursue Family Medicine. He will be greatly missed.

Suzanne Ross

I believe that everyone has a short list of people that have had a pivotal role in their personal and professional development. Kent would have to be near the top of my list. He was incredibly welcoming to me from the very first time we met at a FMIG meeting and had a large influence on my career path throughout medical school and beyond. His encouragement to attend the national and state-based meetings and conferences allowed me to explore the many facets of Family Medicine. It always felt like he deeply cared about my success and was an incredible educator. One of the most memorable events in medical school for me was receiving the Davies award. I don't believe that would have been possible without Kent's assistance and guidance. I will miss him and can only hope that I thanked him enough for all of his help over the years. 

Todd Shepherd



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