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Former host of 'Safari Sam' is planning his own memorial service as a party he'd like to attend

Posted: July 5, 2014 - 5:13pm  |  Updated: July 5, 2014 - 5:19pm
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Cancer patient Kent Lindsey is planning his memorial service, which he wants to be a lighthearted celebration of his life. "I want it to be happy," he said. "It's a gift you give to your family."
Cancer patient Kent Lindsey is planning his memorial service, which he wants to be a lighthearted celebration of his life. "I want it to be happy," he said. "It's a gift you give to your family."

Kent Lindsey has been a rock musician, a television host, an actor and a producer.

In partnership with his wife, Pepper Lindsey, he has been producing the Jacksonville Legacy Series, documentaries about some of Jacksonville’s most significant leaders, and is currently at work on an episode about Jake Godbold.

But he’s got another production in the planning stages: His own memorial service. He wants to make sure it’s been planned in advance, so his family doesn’t face any last-minute decisions. And he wants to make sure his friends and family celebrate his life joyously. He doesn’t want it to be mournful or maudlin. He doesn’t want anybody dressed in black.

“I want it to be happy,” he said. “It’s a gift you give to your family.”

Lindsey, who is 61, was diagnosed with lung cancer on Jan. 19, 2012.

With typical humor, he named the three-centimeter tumor in his right lung “Lumpy” and set out to beat it. For a while it looked like he might.

Lindsey, who had never smoked, underwent four rounds of chemotherapy, surgery that removed part of his right lung, another four rounds of chemotherapy and a series of 33 radiation treatments.

In October 2012, after a PET scan, Lindsey was told he appeared to be disease-free. For a year, he did well. But last Oct. 4, he had a seizure. The cancer was back and it had spread to his brain.

He has undergone more radiation and more chemotherapy. He says he hasn’t given up.

“I’m not on an expiration date,” he said.

But he’s preparing for the worst.

“Nobody gets out of this alive,” he said. “Or so I’m told.”

So a few days ago, Lindsey met with Camille Ott, a Dignity Memorial advisor, and Jody Brandenburg, president of the Hardage-Giddens family of funeral homes and cemeteries, which is part of the Dignity Memorial national network of funeral, cremation and cemetery service providers. Their purpose: To talk about Lindsey’s ideas about how he wants his life celebrated.

“I remember a dear friend of mine who died,” Lindsey told them. “And she had a birthday party. That’s what I want.”

Lindsey said he’s already planning to make a CD of some his favorite songs that will be distributed to those attending his celebration. His friend Mike Shackelford has agreed to sing a couple of songs.

Lindsey and Shackelford performed together in the band Justin from 1974-85, before Lindsey left the band to concentrate on hosting “Safari Sam,” an afternoon children’s show that ran on WAWS TV-30 from 1985-98.

Lindsey said one of the blessings of his illness has been that it helped renew his close friendship with Shackelford after they had drifted apart over the years. They even did a Justin reunion, playing together at European Street Cafe on Beach Boulevard in March 2013.

Lindsey is also planning to make a video to play during the event. It will be a chance to go for a few laughs and to thank the people who mattered to him, he said.

In choosing to plan a non-traditional memorial service, Lindsey is part of a growing trend, Brandenburg said.

“A lot of people now don’t want the traditional sad funeral service,” he said. “They want a celebration.”

Dignity Memorial did an online series of 2,200 interviews last December and found that nationally about 37 percent of those responding would prefer a non-traditional ceremony. In Jacksonville, 35 percent said they favored non-traditional. The preference for non-traditional was highest among respondents under the age of 35 (42 percent) but 28 percent of those 55 or older who responded, like Lindsey, want a non-traditional service.

Lindsey, said he talked with his psychologist about his decision to plan his memorial service. It worried him that his 11-year- old daughter Samantha “doesn’t want to talk about this.”

He asked the psycholoigist: “Am I getting too far ahead of myself? Am I forcing what’s inevitable? I don’t want to rush it.”

He said the psychologist told him to go ahead and make his plans.

“I want to get this off my plate,” Lindsey said.

And he doesn’t want to leave it to his wife and other family members to have to make arrangement after he’s gone.

“Why would somebody do that to their family?” he asked. “To me that’s selfish.”


Charlie Patton: (904) 359-4413

Comments (2)

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duvaltilidie 07/06/14 - 03:57 am
Premium Member
I have such fond memories of

I have such fond memories of seeing Safari Sam on TV after school and all the buttons on his shirt, lol. My fondest and most favorite memory, is when he came to visit us kids at Bayview Elementary in 1992. I was in the 5th grade and I remember all of us kids freaking out that Safari Sam was coming to visit us. When we got to the auditorium and Mrs. Mullis came out rocking as only she could do, we knew it was going to be amazing. When Sam finally came out, that's when we absolutely lost it. He was picking kids out to come join him up on the stage and I jumped out of my chair as high as I could and I was the first kid he pointed to. I RAN to the stage and remember smiling ear to ear. Well, when the other chosen kids got upto the stage, he had us join him in a lesson on recycling. He had us hold up big signs with something different written on all of them, and to pass them along to the next kid and throw them either in the recycle bin or trash can. 22 years ago and I still remember that moment like it was yesterday. I just wanted you to know, Kent, that you shined more than a little bit of light into our lives during your run as Safari Sam. I'll be passing along a prayer to the big guy upstairs.

Noles 1
Noles 1 07/05/14 - 10:06 pm
Premium Member
Kent, The talents that you

Kent, The talents that you are blessed with and shared with us touched so many more lives than you will ever know! I worked at the old Steak and Ale on Arlington Expressway in the mid 70's during Justin's heydays. "That Old Kentucky Rain" !!! Blessings to You and Yours! Brad ><>

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