Remembering Professor of Emergency Surgery Kent Johnston, MD

Former University Hospital Physician and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine Professor Kent Johnston died at Fairview Hospital on April 18th surrounded by family.

Kent was a proud Buckeye, attending Ohio State University and graduating Magnum Cum Laude. He then pursued his dreams of entering the medical field at Harvard Medical School, graduating Cum Laude in 1961.

After completing two years of residency and internship at University Hospitals, Kent entered the Air Force as a Captain from 1963-65. Stationed in Peshawar, Pakistan, he earned a medal of accommodation.

Upon returning to United States, he completed a research fellowship at Case Western Reserve University.

In 1970, he began a rewarding and distinguished career in the Department of Surgery at University Hospitals until his retirement in 1999. He worked as a part of the pioneering organ transplant team that saved thousands of lives. Kent was often referred to as “the Cowboy” around University Hospital, so named for his penchant for wearing a different Cowboy hat and pair of boots to work every day. He was also well known for his sense of humor, often cracking jokes in the operating room “to ease the tension.”

He made time to teach the next generation as Professor of Surgery at Case Western Reserve University – School of Medicine. Many of his students crewed for him on his sailboat in the challenging Ensign class, which he competitively skippered weekly in races on Lake Erie.

Kent is survived by his loving wife Mary Ann Johnston (nee Kavlich). In addition, two of his children, Kevin and Jeff, are proud Case graduates, while daughter Julianna Senturia is a former fund raiser for a local children’s hospital. Two of Kent’s step-children choose the medical profession, John Kavlich MD, and Debby Enderlein, while a third, Diane Sabol, is a former medical office manager.

To honor Kent’s memory, please register as an organ donor at