Obituary: Hal Kent Platts
One of 17 siblings, longtime Claremonter, dedicated father, friend, volunteer
Twenty-seven year Claremont resident Hal Kent Platts died July 2 at the age of 82.
Mr. Platts was born on Friday the 13th in September, 1935 in Lyman, Wyoming. He was the 16th of 17 children. He grew up in the small town, working on his family’s farm and honing skills that would benefit him for a lifetime. His first job was to hold a cow’s tail while his sister milked. Later, he milked cows, cleaned chicken coops (not one of his favorite things to do), drove a tractor at age seven, bailed hay, raised and sold his own pigs, and by the time he was 15, worked the entire farm by himself.
Even though he started school late in the fall because of working on the farm, he excelled in all academic areas. He also played saxophone in the school band from the 7th to 12th grades, was captain of the Lyman High School football team (even though he was small in stature) and played basketball.
Mr. Platts was raised in the Mormon faith. After high school, he attended Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. He took a break from his studies to serve a mission in Mexico for two and a half years. This experience endeared him to a culture and people that he loved for the rest of his life.
Following graduation from BYU in 1962, he married for the first time and moved to California, where he would remain for the rest of his life.
While raising his first daughter, Julianne, he earned a master’s degree in social welfare at the University of California, Los Angeles. After graduation he began his 30-year tenure at Los Angeles County departments of adoptions and mental health. He was loved by many who worked for him, as he was attentive to their professional growth and success, his family shared. He had two more children during his first marriage, sons John and Kent.
His life took a major turn when he married a second time to the love of his life, Gladys Lee. For 40 years the couple built a happy, busy and rich life in Claremont and raised two more children, Adrienne and Hal Lee.
Not too many men would retire at age 57 to become a full-time stay-at-home parent, but Mr. Platts did exactly that when Hal Lee was born, his wife shared, and he enjoyed every minute of it. He was a soccer and basketball coach and served on the board of Claremont Youth Basketball; he volunteered countless hours at Sycamore Elementary School, planting vegetable gardens and using gardening to teach the students math and other skills; he participated in Cross Generations Day and International Day; and was a favorite among kids and parents, making everyone laugh with his quirky jokes and stories from the farm, his family shared.
One of Mr. Platts’ most meaningful experiences was opening up his home to many of Hal Lee’s friends. He added a basketball half-court area to his back yard, and to this day it is used often by Claremont High School alumni. He is famous for giving these boys, and later young men, a playful hit on the back of their heads, especially before their games, which he called their “medicine.”
Mr. Platts and his wife Gladys were also very involved with their daughter Adrienne’s ballet, soccer, track and field, golf and gymnastics. Mr. Platts attended every performance, game, meet and match to cheer on Adrienne and her teammates and even went to most practices. He was truly a most involved father, his wife shared.
He also loved to have his whole family over at the house for birthdays and holidays, including all of his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and in-laws. He would stay up for hours, swapping stories with Julianne, John and Kent and playing with all of their kids (and their kid’s kids). His grandkids and great-grandkids made him so happy and always put big smiles on his face.
In addition to these fun parenting times, he also enjoyed traveling with his wife and friends. He visited Hong Kong—where Gladys grew up—China, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Germany, London and closer locales such as Mexico and Canada.
When he retired, he was director of a 40-bed residential facility for seriously mentally ill people. As a licensed clinical social worker, he also consulted with group homes and had a successful and impactful psychotherapy practice in Claremont for 30 years. Following retirement, he returned briefly to Tri-City Mental Health, where he had moonlighted for many years while working for the county, to start Casa Esperanza, serving the Cuban and Latino communities in Pomona. He was very proud of this achievement, his family shared.
Mr. Platts was also quite athletic. He was part of the La Verne Senior Golf League for many years, was an avid bicyclist, cycling 40 miles to work three times a week, was a self-proclaimed boxing champ in college and in the military, and could often be found shooting hoops or playing ping pong with his children, grandchildren and friends.
He supported his wife Gladys in her career, willingly becoming a homemaker and learning to cook, sew, and do all kinds of household chores. He loved to tease, joke around and make funny and clever remarks, his family shared. His son Hal said that his dad brought a lot of smiles to strangers’ faces. He also loved tending to his garden, which is full of different varieties of fruits, vegetables, herbs, flowers and trees.
Mr. Platts was diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer in August 2016. He fought hard to continue living, trying all available treatments, and despite his weakened condition, took several trips in 2017. He never let cancer take over his life, his wife shared.
“While his final few months were not easy, his last week was filled with visitors from near and far bringing him so much joy and love,” his wife said. “During his final few days with us, he expressed his immense love and gratitude to his wife, children and friends. He will forever live in our hearts.”
Mr. Platts is survived by his wife of 40 years, Gladys Lee Platts; five children; 10 grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; two sisters and a brother; in-laws and extended family; and many dear, lifelong friends.
A viewing will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. Sunday, July 8 at Todd Memorial Chapel, 325 N. Indian Hill Blvd., Claremont. A second viewing will be held from 9 to 10 a.m. Monday, July 9 at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2645 Amherst St., La Verne, followed by a service from 10:30 a.m. to noon. Interment will follow at Oak Park Cemetery, 410 Sycamore Ave., Claremont.