The number 13 was not unlucky for M. Kent Stillwagon. He was born Oct. 13, 1965. He wed his bride on the 13th of September 2002 — a Friday.
“I had always wanted to get married at Oheka Castle but we went there and we couldn’t afford it,” Terry Fichter-Stillwagon, his wife, said. “Except if you’re willing to get married on Friday the 13th.”
The couple booked the date, the groom not hesitating to give his bride her dream wedding, no matter the date.
“That’s the kind of person he was,” Fichter-Stillwagon said. “He was much more sensitive and sweet than people realized. A lot of people didn’t know the softer side of Kent.”
Stillwagon, 52, a Huntington resident and volunteer paramedic with the Greenlawn Fire Department, died April 17 just hours after responding to numerous calls, including a three-hour possible gas leak emergency, and while still on duty, said Michael Bellis, Greenlawn chief of department.
Fire department officials and his widow said he had a heart attack during an overnight on-call shift.
His fellow volunteers and friends in the Greenlawn Fire Department responded and tried “valiantly” to resuscitate him, Bellis said.
He was taken to Huntington Hospital, where he died later that day, Bellis said.
Born in Flint, Michigan, Stillwagon joined the Army after high school. He served from 1985 until July 1993 working as a counterintelligence agent doing analysis in countries across the world, Fichter-Stillwagon said.
Early in his Army career he delivered a baby at 35,000 feet en route to Dover Air Force Base in November 1987, his widow said. He eventually made his way to Long Island where he met his future wife.
At the time of his death he also worked as a licensed private investigator and as a paid paramedic out of area firehouses, Fichter-Stillwagon said.
“He was a wonderful man and a character,” she said. “He had a tough life of service but he loved his dogs, Frankie and Zena — they were like his kids — and me.”
A member of the Greenlawn Fire Department from June 2004 until July 2010, Stillwagon initially joined as a firefighter, before he received his certification as a New York State Emergency Medical Technician — Basic and became a certified New York State paramedic, Bellis said.
He left the department in 2010 and rejoined in April 2017. He refreshed his paramedic certification and became one of the department’s most active volunteers, Bellis said.
He was remembered as a valued colleague who had been recognized as rescue member of the year in 2005 and 2009. Last year he was honored again when he received the Top EMT in Charge Award. He was the paramedic in charge of 104 calls for the year, despite having been active for only three quarters of 2017, Bellis said.
“When he went to work there was no hesitation in telling fellow crew members what needed to be done and what he was going to do,” Bellis said. “He had a great bedside manner; he’s really going to be missed.”
A service was held at the M.A. Connell Funeral Home in Huntington on April 20 and a fire department service was held the same day.