Man and woman smiling

Kent and Mary Beittel

Director Emeritus, Kent R. Beittel, passed away October 16 at the age of 72. His efforts, passion and accomplishments in helping the homeless and marginally housed were unmatched and his legacy will live on at The Open Shelter. Kent and his wife Mary Beittel (who passed in 2017) were honored with community activism awards at the Free Press 2004 annual awards event as champions for the homeless. Often bucking the establishment coalitions in Columbus, Beittel was a strong and effective advocate for people caught up in societal injustice, addiction and poverty.

Friends of Kent and Mary Beittel told their stories about their relationships with Kent and Mary Beittel.

I worked with Kent for years in the shelter system - I also went to high school with him. His work will far outlive him and is a legacy to his life. He always fought for what is first responder shelter - come as you are - no questions - other Columbus shelters including the one that I sat on the board of did not take visibly inebriated or drugged people and now it is not even a front door system and one must check in and then be assigned a bed in a shelter - there is a intake processes - Kent took everyone right at the front door - he insisted on it - no matter condition or ability to identify themselves. His efforts largely caused the Shelter Board to ultimately look at and begin to create "wet" housing through the Rebuilding Lives program where sobriety is not a mandate thereby rescuing hundreds if not thousands more people. Kent was a warrior.
~ Candy Watkins

I first encountered him in the early 70s when he was working High Street to help runaways and homeless youth find shelter, assistance, and support. Kent was indeed a warrior who held up a shield for those who, for a variety of reasons, couldn’t protect themselves. He was a good friend, and the kind of pain in the ass that made me appreciate and value him.
~ Steve Abbott

I was the Volunteer Event Coordinator for the Columbus Coalition for the Homeless for 10 years and then founded the Good Neighbors Picnic for the Homeless with William McCulley. Kent was on the Board of the Coalition all those years and taught me the virtues of sticking to your values. His example of hard work and devotion to the homeless was inspirational. Together with his wife, Mary, they were an example of what can be accomplished through sheer will and character. They were not goody-two-shoes people. Kent wore a cowboy hat and leather and he and Mary many times would arrive on a Harley. He was a man of deep faith, who never pushed his faith on anyone. He pioneered many of the services that the homeless community utilizes till this day. The Open Shelter continues and Kent's legacy will be an inspiration for many. Rest in peace.
~ Gabor Klein

I was very saddened to hear about Kent. He was a friend to ComFest, speaking from stages, conducting workshops to educate people about the homeless population. He was fierce. The world needs more like him.
~ Connie Everett