11/23/1992 at 01:00 AM EST
WHEN, LATE IN 1973, NEWS EDITOR Hal Wingo began recruiting correspondents from around the world to report for the upstart new magazine PEOPLE, he knew exactly whom he wanted to cover Texas and the Southwest: Kent Demaret, a former LIFE correspondent in Houston. Demaret's response: Thanks, but no thanks. He was, he explained, in the middle of writing a book and was otherwise occupied with reporting duties for public television and the British Broadcasting Corporation.
The book turned out to be a portrait of flamboyant Houston television personality Marvin Zindler (later immortalized on stage and screen as the inspiration for the TV crusader in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas). Zindler himself became one of the early feature stories in PEOPLE, and Demaret, in due course, signed on as our Houston bureau chief. Wingo recalls that in those early days, when the magazine was still defining itself, "Kent was the most prolific correspondent we had. He would suggest a story almost every day and had features published with remarkable frequency."
Now, after 18 years of weekly deadline pressures, Kent, 58, is changing his pace and looking once again at book projects that have long been on hold. Anne Maier, a lawyer and Houston PEOPLE correspondent since 1981, succeeds Kent as bureau chief, but we are pleased that he will remain on our masthead as a special correspondent.
Kent's assignments for PEOPLE look him around the world but no story had a greater impact or more profound effect on him personally than the two-part cover story we published in 1984 on the life and death of a Houston 12-year-old known to the world as the Bubble Boy. Born with no immune system, David spent his life in an 8-foot-by-10-foot, germ-free plastic cubicle in his parents' home. Kent had reported on David's birth for LIFE, and after David's death he helped his mother, Carol Ann, tell her story—and her son's—for the first time. Four years later, Kent and Carol Ann were married.
That happy ending was typical for a reporter who made a specialty of them. All of us at PEOPLE wish Kent well as he now opens an exciting new chapter of his career.