In his retirement, Kent Stork wanted to be onstage. He succeeded, though his time in the spotlight was brief.
The 66-year-old died in the hospital Sunday after suffering a heart attack onstage 10 minutes into his lead performance in “Art of Murder” at Theatre in the Valley in Henderson. Nine hours after he died, his second grandchild, a baby girl named Lydia, was born in the same hospital. He was supposed to celebrate his 67th birthday Tuesday.
“This was a big weekend on our calendar,” Joyce Stork, his wife of 46 years, said. “Life just changes very quickly.”
Kent and Joyce Stork moved to Henderson from Fremont, Nebraska, in January to be closer to family. They had just retired from the flower shop they ran for 39 years, where they specialized in African violets — a flower that took them around the world. Joyce Stork said her husband’s love of challenges led to the start of the business. Early in their marriage, they received an African violet as a gift. After the plant died, he went to the library to study where he had gone wrong caring for it.
Stork won about a dozen major awards at national flower shows and traveled with his wife to Russia and Hong Kong to speak to growers. The couple also wrote a book about the flower.
He taught speech, English and a little theater to high schoolers for a year after studying speech in college but decided against a teaching career.
A few years ago, the couple attended a play in Omaha, where he was chosen to participate onstage. “He kind of caught the bug, and it was going to be his retirement hobby,” his son Zach said.
When Kent Stork moved, he started auditioning for roles right away. He would get the script ahead of time so he could nail the audition.
It built his confidence,” Joyce said. “Art of Murder” was his first role onstage since his move to Nevada. He performed in five productions when he lived in Nebraska.
Joyce said her husband was always grounded in his Lutheran faith. He avoided scripts that would be a poor representation of his relationship with God. “It is what made our marriage really very strong,” she said. Kent Stork is survived by his wife, Joyce; his sons Zach and Nathaniel; his sisters Janine Carlson and Kris Hallstrom; and his grandchildren William and Lydia.