FARMINGTON, Minnesota — Leonard H. Sargent, age 80, of Farmington, Minnesota, died at his home on March 23, 2018. Born on Feb. 9, 1938, in Hamilton. Len was raised in the Bitterroot Valley by family that had moved to the Bitterroot decades earlier, drawn by the McIntosh apple boom. His father Harley worked on Rocky Mountain tick fever research at the national science lab in Hamilton, while his mother Mabel was a local telephone operator. Len graduated from Hamilton High School in 1956 and earned a BA in English and history and an MA in education from the University of Montana. He began his teaching career in Hamilton Schools as an English and history teacher. His first assignment: teaching 100+ eighth-grade "baby boomers" in hastily-thrown-together classrooms in the basement of the Jefferson Grade School on South Fifth Street in Hamilton. He later earned a specialist degree in educational administration from the University of Wisconsin, Superior.
Len's career included working for the Boeing Corporation as a training analyst and researcher, spending ten years as the Western Regional Manager for Mc-Graw Hill Corporation, and serving five years as the executive director for the Montana School Boards Association. He spent the last ten years of his career as a high school principal, first in Huntley Project, then in Medford, Minnesota. It is during those years as principal when he made many lasting friendships with teachers and students. After retiring in 2001, he substitute taught at Farmington High School. Len was a "natural" teacher. Although his leadership skills put him on the "fast track" for administrative positions, he was happiest when teaching. A soft-spoken man with a keen sense of humor (which often caught both his friends and his student’s off-guard) and an engaging personality, Len mastered the art of maintaining discipline by looking over the tops of his glasses early on. He placed great value in instilling a love of writing, literature, and United States and local history in his students. A talented pianist and organist from an early age, Len deeply appreciated beautiful music, especially classical. He was seldom seen without a current "read" close by. During his youth, he also enjoyed spending time in the outdoors, especially fishing and duck hunting. Although Len worked and lived away from Montana for much of his adult life, his heart was always in western Montana, soaking up the spectacular scenery and testing his skills at his favorite fly fishing hole on the Bitterroot River. In 2015, Len and Monica were able to spend a year living in his beloved Bitterroot Valley, giving Len a chance to reacquaint with old friends and spend time with his children and grandchildren. In his final years, Len faced many health issues from complications of diabetes. With stoic resilience he repeatedly bounced back from often-daunting medical crises, choosing to live life to the fullest, with a positive engaging attitude. His wit and sense of humor touched all who met him.
Len was preceded in death by his parents, Harley and Mabel Sargent, and his sisters, Shirley Keith and Arlene Kennedy.
He is survived by his wife Monica, son Steve, daughter Sue, twin grandsons Jason and Justin, and half-sister Kathy Humphreys.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be Wednesday, April 4, 2018, at 3 p.m. at St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Farmington, MN, with visitation one hour prior to service at Church. Interment will be at Riverview Cemetery in Hamilton, MT, later this summer. In lieu of flowers, donations preferred to be sent to St. Labre Indian School, Ashland, MT 59004.
White Funeral Home — 651-463-7374
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