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The comments that follow this brief obituary are from friends and colleagues of Jerry Sargent, who was 89 when he died Feb. 3.
Sargent was born to Hobart and Rose Sargent of Bloomington on Nov. 30, 1925. He married Barbara Snodgrass in 1951 and Frances Neal in 1975, who preceded him in death in 2008. Survivors include two sons, Dr. Thomas and Jeffrey Sargent, daughter Claudia Lingeman, stepchildren Ruth Notter and Loretta Carlton and brother Fred Sargent.
Jerry Sargent was many things to many people. But through it all, he was a unique and remarkable person who touched many lives, including mine.
I first met Jerry in 1997, when I was hired as general manager of The Perry Township Weekly. I soon discovered that his love and ties to the paper ran deep.
Many of Jerry’s friends were business owners: Bill Reeves, Marty McDermott, Howard Hubler, Judy Hoping, Steve Morse and Jeff Cardwell. Over the years I went on countless sales calls and luncheons with Jerry and learned so much from him.
He once offered advice to young people considering a career in journalism: “If you’re going to be in journalism, you’d better be prepared – especially if you’re going into the community paper business – to be photographer, a copywriter, a bill collector, an advertising man, a reporter and almost every morning – a sweeper,” a reference to the olden days when the edges of trimmed news copy had to be swept up from the floor.
His love of life, art, baseball and history was infectious. One time when we were Downtown, he pointed out the historic significance of some of the buildings and areas. Jerry could discuss the Civil War, both world wars and everything in between. He had a remarkable memory of historic events.
Just before he quit driving, he made a U-turn in front of the Perry Township Weekly on Main Street in Beech Grove and bounced his car off of the curb. When entering the building he stopped and looked at the large clock on the wall and said to me, “Roger, what time is it? I can’t read that clock.” We all got a good laugh with him driving with limited vision. Thankfully, he discontinued driving soon afterward.
– Roger Huntzinger
Southsider Voice advertising manager
Jerry Sargent had a heart of gold and always helped everyone when it came to sharing news.
I met him during the summer of 1983 when taking a front office position at the Perry Township Weekly. Jerry had already sold the paper but still had an office there. One day he shared that he was impressed with how I handled customers on the phone and at the counter. He said I needed to be in advertising.
Jerry got permission from my general manager to take me around the Southside to meet a few of his clients. We talked along the way and, of course, he taught me the ropes of the business.
The next week he brought in a competitor’s newspaper and said, “I want you to call on these customers, and we’ll meet at the end of the day.” Well ... I sold to everyone, and he gave me a bonus. Little did I know that that was the start of my career and that my planned profession as a computer programmer was moved to the back burner.
His passion for journalism and advertising will be missed.
– Kelly Sawyers
Southside Voice publisher
I met Jerry in the late 1970s when he owned the Perry Township Weekly.
A master of networking and building relationships, Jerry introduced me to radio, and we stayed on the air together for more than 20 years, most recently with the People Helping People Radio Network.
Beginning with his military service, Jerry was on the air for more than 60 years. He was the only person I knew who received three Sagamore of the Wabash awards – from Govs. Otis Bowen, Robert Orr and Mike Pence.
Most importantly, he was a mentor and a dear friend. We will all miss Jerry.
– Jeff Cardwell
Senior advisor and special assistant to Gov. Mike Pence
My favorite memory of Jerry is his insatiable thirst for knowledge: Current events, history, arts, genealogy, the natural world, politics, literature – he wanted to know it all.
He taught me how to build a business and how to be a civic advocate. He jokingly said there was never a meeting he didn’t like. But the truth is, he was either a founding member or on the board of most of the historical and arts organizations in Indianapolis and Johnson County.
The sheer number of contacts in his mental Rolodex was staggering. I once asked him what he hoped the afterlife would hold for him, and he said he hoped he would finally be able to rest. When asked how he would like to be remembered, Jerry immediately replied, “As an officer and a gentleman.”
– Lisa Gantz
Realtor, Gantz and Associates, KW St. Pete Realty
One of Jerry’s clients started a meeting with the news that he was going to cut his ad budget during an economic downturn. Jerry had the experience and tenacity to reply with, “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard you say.” By the end of the meeting the client agreed to increase his ad budget.
Jerry simplified a successful sales strategy with PAC – promotion, advertising, contact. Those basic tools were used by hundreds of his loyal business and political clients for decades.
– Dan Cooper
Jerry Sargent – the “Southside Renaissance Man.”
If I told you all that encompassed the life of Jerry Sargent, you would say no one life could have been so full.
Jerry served his country in multiple branches of the armed forces, attaining the rank of colonel. He was a historian, publisher, writer, marketing guru and a tireless promoter of the Southside. From his early years in Bloomington and after graduating from Indiana University, he embarked on a mission to be a force in his community.
As publisher and owner of the Perry Township Weekly, Jerry helped to shape the Southside into the community that it is today. Jerry not only studied history, he made it.
So, as the flags of the color guard were lowered and “Taps” rang out, we said farewell to “The Colonel” and wished him Godspeed.
As we go about our lives, be it in Greenwood, Beech Grove or Southport, we can look at the buildings, streets and shops and see Jerry’s impact on our community and appreciate a life well lived.
– Eric Moore
I remember Jerry as the person who always encouraged me to be more engaged in our society and learn its history, which he knew vast amounts about (including the Blue Bluffs of White River).
I remember him for the human interest articles that he loved to write for the Perry Township Weekly, our monthly luncheons where he insisted that everyone had a chance to tell the group what was new, the PAC (promotion, advertising, contact) philosophy of marketing that he preached and the prodding he gave to encourage people to tell their story on his radio shows.
He was a kind man and a loyal friend.
“Enthusiasm makes the world go ’round.” That’s what Jerry said to me while I was in the Indiana Selective Service System.
– Stephen W. Hadley
Retired U.S. Air Force Reserve lieutenant colonel