Caleb Crother, The Horizon
Dr. D.C. Lon Tent recently announced her decision to step down from the position she has held for the past 467 days. She is set to retire from Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California, which has been her home her entire life. Known as Lonnie to her close friends, she will be dearly missed by the students, faculty and staff of the college. Each of her 467 days were spent in faithful service, providing hospitality and shelter to her brothers and sisters in Christ while they ate.
Born in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Lonnie learned at a young age to shelter students during their meal times. Her father Mr. D. Commons taught the family business to Lonnie and her siblings Winter, Carroll and Deane Tent as soon as they were born. During the pandemic, the elder Mr. Commons — who stays spirited in his old age — grew ill. While he was still able to distribute food to students, he handed off the duties of caring for the students to his younger, healthier children.
Lonnie Tent’s siblings fondly remember the great example she set for their family early on in the pandemic. She has always been hospitable and threw countless dinner parties, ministering to hundreds of students in her short time at Westmont.
Lonnie always strived to make things better for students. Many recall the first time she hosted a dinner party, wearing her signature avant-garde light necklace. She says there’s nothing she loved more than the sight of a student’s face as they opened up their to-go box to the delicious surprises that lay inside.
Those who interacted with her on campus know Lonnie as a practical joker who was always eager to tip students’ chairs, sending them toppling into each other like dominoes — to her great delight. She often set up tables at an angle, spilling drinks onto unsuspecting diners’ laps. Sometimes, she could be spotted carefully digging little potholes to trip students or sticking chairs in nearby trees.
Outside of work, Lonnie loves to garden. While she doesn’t have the greenest thumb, Lonnie took great pleasure in digging up the grass at Westmont. Her friends and family laugh as they remember the sight of Lonnie using carrots or Pepsi to “refertilize the soil,” as she calls it.
Unsurprisingly, she never grew much in her gardening skills, but eventually found creative ways to beautify the space. After a few months collecting, she turned the dirt patch into a junk garden with plastic forks, salt packets and, like the true Warrior she was, countless “Protect the Mont” stickers.
While Lonnie cared for the land, she also cared for the animals of Westmont College. She will be missed by her beloved pets, the rotund crows and squirrels who often foraged for french fries in her dirt garden.
Never one to rest on her laurels, Lonnie plans to lead a very active life, even in retirement. She hosts countless visitors and offers students and professors alike a place to rest as they traipse up and down the hill. Unfortunately, as she nears the end of her professional life, she sits abandoned more often than not, as only the odd professor or student pays a visit. It seems as if her usefulness is running dry as many students make meal plans without involving her lovely dirt patch garden.
She finally decided to retire towards the end of October, returning the duty of sheltering students’ meals to her father. At her retirement ceremony, Dr. Gayle Beebe recognized her faithful service to the college and presented her with an honorary doctorate degree in social services and conservation. Living in the midst of a chaotic pandemic, Santa Ana winds, freak hail storms and whizzing frisbees, Dr. D.C. Lon Tent stood as a firm testament to hospitality and love; she will be truly missed.