Published in the Miami Herald on Sept. 17, 2017
Kent Hansen Stirling, age 72, loving husband, father, grandfather and friend passed away at home on September 6, 2017 after waging his 4th courageous battle against cancer. Kent is survived by his devoted wife Sheri; his daughter, Ginger Allen and husband Michael; his daughter Lori Schneider and husband Marc; his grandchildren Stirling, Connor, and Rylie Allen and Regan and Calin Schneider; step-children, Juland (Paul) and Jarrod Holmes; sister Jill Thomas and family; first wife Lynne Stirling Reynolds; mother-in-law Marion King; and, of course, his beloved four-legged furry children. Kent is predeceased by his mother Jean Hansen Stirling, father William Stirling, Jr, and brother-in-law Charles (Chuck) Thomas. Kent was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, August 13, 1945. He grew up in the idyllic settings of Bakerstown and then Ligonier, Pennsylvania. After graduating from the Kiski Prepatory School, Kent left Pennsylvania for Florida to attend Rollins College and then the University of Miami. Kent married Lynne Fort and then served in the Air Force from 1969-1973. Although his family members were all accomplished equestrians, Kent realized that he was better suited training horses rather than riding them. He joined his father training thoroughbred racehorses for the next 25 years, the most notable being Nijinsky’s Secret. He was a successful horse trainer, racing at Calder Racecourse, Gulfstream Park, Hialeah Park, Woodbine Racetrack (Canada), and Saratoga Springs (New York). Kent retired from training horses but continued his work in the world of horse racing while serving as the President of the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (FHBPA) for 3 years and then as its first Executive Director for the next 20 years. He also served on the Board of the National HBPA. Kent was passionate and extremely vocal about all aspects of the racing industry—especially medication issues. He traveled the country speaking at conferences and even testifying before Congress, all on the horsemen’s behalf. Kent believed Florida was God’s country, and he was a huge Miami Hurricanes fan. However, he remained forever tied to the professional sports of his birthplace, vigorously rooting on the Steelers, Pirates and even the Penguins. Kent had a love for music and could name the artist and song title from most every song from 1950-1970. Kent was a fighter, surviving three different kinds of cancer, never feeling sorry for himself and the conditions his cancer created. He was happy to be alive and very involved in support groups for people who shared some of the medical limitations that he had experienced. Kent had an extremely quick wit, all-consuming laugh, and strong opinions on just about everything. He had a timeless devotion for the love of his life, Sheri, and an unending love for his family and friends. Kent was incredibly blessed with dear friends Chaplain Tom LaPointe, Steve Andersen, Dave Basler, and of course, his second father Sammy Gordon. He was additionally blessed with best friends Katie and Bob Gladstone, his weekly Saturday breakfast crew, and the Blanchard Fantasy Football League. Many thanks to all of those at the National HBPA, especially Eric Hamelback, and the other HBPA affiliates and friends throughout the country. Continued thanks to the University of Miami Sylvester Cancer Center and Memorial West and South Hospitals. There will be a Celebration of Life for Kent on Saturday, September 23rd, at 11:00am at Sport of Kings Theater at Gulfstream Park. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to: FLTRAC (Thoroughbred Aftercare), His Place Ministries (Pembroke Pines), or the Broward Ostomy Association.