Brent was a man I have looked up to for almost my entire career. He was a super pilot and mechanic, a great dad and husband, an amazing craftsman. Quiet and unassuming but world renowned and relied upon for his skills. We had been trading e-mails recently for which I am glad to have at least had the chance to stay in touch however distant.
August 27, 2011|By Jeannette Rivera-Lyles, Orlando Sentinel Many people like a little adventure in their lives, but Brent McLarty's life was an adventure in itself.
McLarty, of DeLand, was an experienced skydiver, a pilot, a sailor, a skilled water-skier and an avid cyclist. He died Wednesday when the bike he was riding was struck by a van. McLarty was 62.
His family said he loved to challenge himself and was always active. McLarty instilled those traits in his children, Sara and Dustin, who are both athletes.
"My whole family is very athletic," said Sara McLarty, a professional triathlete. "We all ride our bikes, swim, run and compete. My dad was sometimes the trainer, the early morning chauffeur to the races while everyone slept in the back, the cheerleader on the sideline and the bikes' mechanic."
McLarty had been home for only a few weeks when he died. He had spent three months in Norway piloting a plane that took skydivers to different parts of the country.
He picked up skydiving early in his life in California, where he was born. In 1972, he moved to Central Florida to work at Skydive DeLand as a pilot. There he met his wife, Karen, who was also a skydiver.
Together they custom-built their house on 20 acres of land and took several whitewater-rafting trips down the Colorado River. More recently, they took up sailing.
"My mother likes to say that he lived every minute of every day to the max," Sara McLarty said. "He didn't wait to have a good time — he made it happen."
In 2007, the couple celebrated their 25 wedding anniversary with a monthlong trip around the world.
"From start to finish, it was one huge, awesome adventure," Karen McLarty said. "We did a five-day safari in Africa, we went to New Zealand, Australia, Egypt. There wasn't one bad or dull moment in the whole trip."
But there was more to McLarty than his passion for adrenaline-inducing activities. He also was a skilled woodworker. In 1983 he founded Precision Operations, a DeLand business that makes custom wood goods, from window shutters to furniture.
McLarty's son, Dustin, of Irving, Calif., said his father was quite gifted in the culinary arts as well.
"For Thanksgiving he'd smoke a turkey for 12 hours," Dustin said. "It would be so moist and so sweet with the oranges he'd put in the smoker. There's nothing like it."
Another specialty of Chef McLarty: a mouth-watering grilled-cheese sandwich.
"It might sound easy, but not everybody can make a perfect one," Dustin said. "He could."
One of the family's fondest memories is McLarty's obsession with fixing things. He used to say that anything can be fixed with a large enough hammer.
"We'd be at a party and Dad would be in the kitchen fixing the ice maker because he heard the host saying that it wasn't working," Sara McLarty said, laughing.
In addition to his wife and children, McLarty is survived by his mother, Jane McLarty of DeLand; sister, Jan McLarty of Rockledge; and brother, Gerry McLarty of Phoenix.
Let's not forget Ian, who had worked for PD for many years, and after a short time with Aerodyne, lost his life on the streets of Tampa at an intersection he was stopped at waiting for the light to change.
We have to wonder if the person that hit him was texting or using his phone in some way.
Condolences to Brent's family & friends. So very sorry to hear of the loss...his family will be in my prayers for the strength to get through such a tragedy.
skymama (D 26699)
Sep 2, 2011, 7:05 PM
Post #10 of 10