Ken Sargent, of Wilton, remembered

WILTON – They gathered at Wilton Center Unitarian Church on Saturday, Jan. 25, family, friends and many of his former students, to remember and celebrate the long life of Ken Sargent.

The church was nearly full.

He was “end of an era,” his son, Jon Sargent, said, “the bow ties, the Manhattans.”

Sargent, 95, was recalled as a storyteller and a man who liked to haggle with yard sale operators and used car salesmen and usually won.

He built the house in which he lived when he moved to Wilton from Lyndeborough in 1960. He built that house for entertaining, his son said.

“He loved to entertain on holidays. It was a place where the family came together. It was a beautiful place,” Jon Sargent said.

Sargent was born in Elmira, N.Y., in 1918, grew up in Boston, earned a degree in science at Boston University, and graduated with a master’s degree in education in 1941. He moved to Wilton after service in World War II to accept a position as high school math teacher at the former Wilton High School. He later was named principal and then superintendent of SAU 63, which at the time included nine towns.

He left the Wilton education system in 1971 and was a special education administrator in Westford, Mass., until his retirement in 1984.

He also had a long career with the New Hampshire National Guard, retiring as a major in 1970.

Sargent’s life philosophy was “to never stop moving,” several family members said. He was annoyed when he had to stop running, somewhere around age 90, and had to “just walk.”

He was active until the day of his death, Jon Sargent said. “He fulfilled the only two certainties of life on his last day, death and taxes. He had gone to the town office that morning to pay his taxes.”

Sargent loved to travel and did so for many years with his late wife, Marion. They were married in 1945 and were together for 52 years before her death in 1997.

“He hated winters and cold weather,” Jon said, “I don’t know why he stayed here.”

He spent many winters in the south, some in Mexico, and in Florida with friends until this year.

“He was a man of simple wants and needs,” Jon Sargent said, never throwing anything away if it could be used.

The service last weekend was conducted by the Rev. Elaine Bomford and included two favorite hymns, “For the Beauty of the Earth” and “Amazing Grace.”

Several others spoke as well.

Longtime resident Stanley Young credited Sargent with “setting me on the right path for my career.” Sargent arrived at Wilton High School when Young was a junior. “He was a great help to me, pointing me in the right direction.”

Steve Rafter a longtime neighbor and close friend of Jon’s, recalled Sargent “had a Wright saw, long before there were chain saws available. He cut a lot of wood.”

His nephew, Rob, called him a “kind, thoughtful person who had an adventurous side I admired.”

He was predeceased by son, Ken, who died in 2000. Other family members include daughter, Jinny Elliott, and husband, Tom, of Brighton, Mass., Susan Sargent, of Portland, Maine, son, Jon, and wife, Helen, of Wilton, daughter-in-law, Carolanne Sargavakian, seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Donations in his memory may be made to the charity of one’s choice.