SARGANT, WILLIAM BELL, PH. D.
“We cannot direct the winds, but we can adjust our sails.”
Sarge, as he was best known, passed away on Wednesday, August 18, 2021 at Joseph Brant Hospital. He was born in Hamilton and grew up in Bronte which is now part of Oakville. His father was a Commercial Fisherman in Lake Ontario and Georgian Bay. Later, because of his long-standing involvement with the Conservative Party, his father was appointed as a Justice of the Peace. Exceptionally talented at shorthand and an expert typist, his mother was a Court Reporter and Judge’s Secretary. Also, she was a much-appreciated community volunteer. Survived by his wife Ann of 48 years, son William Leigh, partner Carrie Cook, and grandchildren Gwen Cook, Alexander, Adelaide and Benjamin Sargant. Predeceased by father William G., mother Nora R. (nee Bell), and brothers Ralph, Jack and Alan. At age 15, Sarge played All Star Baseball and Hockey and was a Southern Ontario Track Star. On July 6, 1961, while working at Lakeside Marketeria next door to the Sargant’s house, Sarge collapsed and was rushed to the Oakville Hospital. The unexpected heart ailment kept him in hospital for over a month and put an end to his playing sports, running, and a planned tryout with the Burlington Junior Hockey Team. Sarge was devastated both emotionally and physically which influenced his behaviour for the rest of his life. Upon learning of Sarge’s situation in not being able to play football, Mr. Ron Ziegel, Physical Education Teacher, Thomas A. Blakelock High School, recruited him to be the Manager of the school football and basketball teams which he served as each year until graduation. The responsibilities and experiences helped Sarge to develop his exceptional organizational ability. Ron Ziegel and Sarge remained life-long friends. Sarge graduated from the University of Guelph with a Diploma in Recreation, Batchelor of Arts Degree in Sociology and a Master of Science Degree in Recreation Resource Development. Later, he obtained a Doctor of Philosophy Degree from the University of Waterloo in Regional Planning and Resource Development. He worked for 15 years in municipal and provincial government in the field of park and recreation planning and administration. In 1985, Sarge collapsed at work and spent time in the hospital. He decided that the stress and frustration of the government bureaucracy were affecting his previously damaged heart. Consequently, Sarge retired from the Ontario Government and invested his pension in an RRSP. He and Ann sold their house, put everything in storage, and gave Power of Attorney to Sarge’s brother Jack. Ann, an Elementary School Teacher, took a Position Sharing Leave. Together, with their nine-year-old son, they travelled for six months to Fiji, Singapore, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Australia, China and Japan. Upon their return to Burlington in 1986, they set up a new household. Sarge founded and became President of Cathexis Associates INC., a consulting firm that provided planning and fundraising services. As a volunteer, Sarge was involved in fundraising for the Boy Scouts and United Way and served as Chairman of the University of Guelph Alma Mater Fund. Such experiences led to taking courses to obtain his credentials as a Certified Fund Raising Executive with the National Society of Fund Raising Executives. Through his consulting involvement with The Nature Conservancy of Canada, Sarge negotiated the purchase and donation of several thousand hectares of significant natural areas in Ontario. Also, he helped organizations including The Nature Conservancy of Canada, The Friends of Algonquin Park, Ontario Parks, The Quetico Foundation and others raise several millions of dollars. As comfortable in the bush, a wetland, at the kitchen table, or in the boardroom, Sarge had the remarkable ability to establish rapport with people which was essential for the achievement of his significant results related to planning and fundraising projects. In those endeavours, he was grateful for the assistance and support provided by Cheryl Taylor and Karen Sun who worked with him at Cathexis Associates INC. Certainly, there was stress in operating his own business, but Sarge was his own boss and could pace activities to reduce the impact on his heart. He seldom worked on Wednesdays, using the time to relax and to think. Also, the care and guidance of his Physician, Dr. R. V. Annis, for 52 years following his heart ailment were appreciated. Dr. Annis often called Sarge evenings and weekends to report on test results and to check on him. Upon retirement, Dr. Grace Lun took over his practice and continued to provide excellent care. An avid Toronto Maple Leafs and Blue Jays fan with ticket packages, he often took their son, Leigh, out of school early to attend games. They were at the Blue Jays game in 1993 when Joe Carter hit the home run to win the World Series. Growing up, Sarge enjoyed a wonderful time with his parents and brothers. Later, with Ann and her calm demeanor and their quiet, gifted son, Leigh, Sarge experienced a carefree and happy married life. For 25 years, Sarge served as a part-time Lecturer/Adjunct Professor at the University of Guelph teaching courses in park and recreation planning. He also taught courses at the University of Waterloo and Ryerson Polytechnical University. In retirement at age 60, Sarge served on several non-profit boards including being the President of The Bronte Historical Society. He enjoyed playing chess on the computer, fishing, spending time with the grandchildren, reading, cruising in many parts of the world and playing Scrabble with Ann even though she usually beat him. Sarge became an accomplished Oil Painter specializing in painting clouds. He was a Member of the Cloud Appreciation Society. Also, he photographed butterflies and enjoyed spending summers on Manitoulin Island where he volunteered with the Friends of Misery Bay Provincial Park. One of his favourite projects with the Friends was helping with the Blanding’s Turtle Research Study. In 1978, in honour of his parents, Sarge established the Bell-Sargant Scholarship for a graduate student studying park and recreation planning at the University of Guelph. In Sarge’s memory, memorial donations to the Bell-Sargant Scholarship, Alumni Affairs and Development, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario N1G 2W1 would be appreciated. In keeping with Sarge’s request, there will be no visitation or funeral service. Cremation has taken place with his ashes scattered at his favourite place in the world, Misery Bay Provincial Park, Manitoulin Island.