Joseph Denny Sargent, 83, of West Hartford, beloved husband of 57 years of Mary Tennant Sargent, passed away on Nov. 7 at Hartford Hospital. He was President of The Beekley Family Foundation, which oversees the Beekley International Collection of Skiing Art and Literature.
An entrepreneur, philanthropist and avid outdoor enthusiast, Joe will be remembered for his unique balance of integrity, generosity, smarts and grit. He attended St. Paul’s School (Concord, NH) and Yale University (’52, B.A. in Economics and Geology).
At the time of his passing Joe was actively serving as Chairman of Bradley, Foster and Sargent (BFS), an investment advisory firm he founded with two partners in 1992. Prior to starting BFS, he was Managing Partner and Chairman of Conning and Co., an investment firm specializing in the insurance business. Revered for his business acumen and creativity, Joe was an early pioneer in insurance private equity, and was actively involved in starting and building many insurance companies including Executive Risk and MMI. He also served as Non-Executive Chairman of Beazley Group, a UK public insurance organization with operations at Lloyd’s of London, and as Director of Beekley Corporation, a medical products manufacturer. He was friend and adviser to the late Mason Beekley, whose art collection and library of 2,000 ski books was displayed in New Hartford, Connecticut, and then at Mammoth Lakes, California, and is now seeking a new home.
In 1956, Mary and Joe, with Preston Leete Smith and a few other adventurers, founded Sherburne Corporation, which developed Killington Ski Area. Together they invested capital, cut the ski trails, and put up the lifts that eventually led to the resort’s opening in 1958. Joe served as Chairman of Sherburne Corp. and S-K-I (successor to Sherburne Corp.), one-time owner of Killington, Mt. Snow, Bear Mountain (Calif.), Waterville Valley (NH), Sugarloaf (ME). S-K-I was a public company and was ultimately sold in 1996.
Tireless in his efforts to support nonprofits in the Hartford Community, Joe shared his many talents with numerous organizations. Most notably he served as Director and Chairman of the Board of Hartford Hospital and Director of Hartford Healthcare for more than thirty years. He also served as current or past trustee of YMCA of Greater Hartford, McLean, Wadsworth Atheneum, The Village for Families & Children and the Hartford Art School. Joe was also a member of Asylum Hill Congregational Church and The Hartford Golf Club.
An avid outdoorsman, Joe particularly enjoyed the company of family and friends in his two favorite places, Vermont and Wyoming. In his twenties, Joe and two others embarked on a 100-mile rock climbing odyssey and were credited with eleven first ascents of rocky peaks in the Wind River Range (Wyom.). Many treasured moments were spent on the slopes at Killington, on summer wilderness trips filled with fishing and backcountry hiking, and family time at Trail Creek and Red Rock Ranch (Wyom.). In addition to his beloved wife, partner and adventurer, Mary Tennant Sargent, Joe is survived by his four children and their spouses: Robert and Anne Sargent (West Hartford), Thomas and Sarael Sargent (West Hartford), Diane (Sargent) and Michael Miller (Killington), and Suzanne (Sargent) and Cort Jones (Mendon, VT). He also leaves behind eleven grandchildren who will remember him for his love, devotion to their interests and accomplishments and sense of humor: Elizabeth, Kathryn, Owen, William, Denny, Rob, Abigail, Christopher, Jack, Crawford, and Rebecca.
A celebration of Joe’s life will be held Monday, Nov. 12, 2012 at 11 a.m. at Asylum Hill Congregational Church, 814 Asylum Avenue, Hartford, CT. In lieu of flowers, gifts in memory of Joe may be made to Hartford Hospital or the YMCA of Hartford. Donations to Hartford Hospital should be directed to Hartford Hospital, Fund Development, 80 Seymour Street, P.O. Box 5037 Hartford, CT 06102-5037 or online at giving.harthosp.org.; Gifts in Joe’s memory will be directed to the Hospital’s Center for Education, Simulation and Innovation. Gifts to YMCA may be made to 241 Trumbull Street, Hartford, CT 06103 or online at www.ghymca.org. For directions, please visit www.taylorandmodeen.com.