Nielsen Hayden genealogy

John Turner Sargent, Sr.

Male 1924 - 2012  (87 years)

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  • Name John Turner Sargent  [1
    Suffix Sr. 
    Born 26 Jun 1924  [2
    Gender Male 
    Died 5 Feb 2012  New York, New York Find all individuals with events at this location  [2
    Person ID I4888  Ancestry of PNH, TNH, and others | Ancestor of JTS
    Last Modified 17 Apr 2021 

    Father Charles Sprague Sargent,   b. 7 Mar 1880, Brookline, Norfolk, Massachusetts Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 13 Feb 1959, New York City Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 78 years) 
    Mother Dagmar Wetmore,   b. 24 Jan 1888,   d. Nov 1984, New York, New York Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 96 years) 
    Married 9 May 1912  Grace Church, New York, New York Find all individuals with events at this location  [3, 4
    Family ID F2344  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Neltje Doubleday,   b. 1934  (Age 88 years) 
    Married 16 May 1953  Oyster Bay, Long Island, New York Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Divorced Sep 1965  [1
     1. John Turner Sargent, Jr.,   b. 6 Aug 1957, New York, New York Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 64 years)
    Last Modified 9 Dec 2017 
    Family ID F2229  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 
    • "John Sargent, Former Doubleday President, Dies at 87." The New York Times, 8 Feb 2012:

      John T. Sargent, who as president and later chairman of Doubleday & Company oversaw its expansion from a modest-size family-controlled book publisher to an industry giant with interests extending into broadcasting and baseball, died on Sunday at his home in Manhattan. He was 87.

      The death was confirmed by his son, John T. Sargent Jr., the chief executive of Macmillan, the publishing company.

      Mr. Sargent, who was already working for Doubleday when he married Neltje Doubleday, granddaughter of the company's founder, Frank Nelson Doubleday, in 1953, was named president and chief executive in 1961. At the time, the company was largely a trade book publisher; it also ran a book club, a New York bookstore and a modest printing concern.

      Over the next 17 years, in partnership with Nelson Doubleday Jr., grandson of the founder, Mr. Sargent worked to expand all of those enterprises, largely succeeding in spite of a divorce in 1965 and an insurrection by a minority of the company's shareholders, led by his former wife, who wanted it to go public.

      By 1979, the year after he left the presidency and was made chairman, Doubleday was publishing 700 books annually. The company had bought a textbook subsidiary and the Dell Publishing Company, which included Dell paperbacks. It was operating more than a dozen book clubs, including the mammoth Literary Guild; more than two dozen Doubleday bookshops across the country; and four book printing and binding companies.

      In addition, Mr. Sargent led the company's expansion into radio and television broadcasting and film production. As chairman, he was involved in the company's purchase of the New York Mets in 1980.

      The Doubleday company eschewed publicity and the prying of journalists. "The Sphinx Called Doubleday" was the headline on a 1979 article about the company in The New York Times, which described its publishing ethos this way: "There is no class of book that is considered a 'Doubleday book,' nor is there any book that would automatically be judged unsuitable for the Doubleday imprint. Generally speaking, the house frowns on books loaded with sex, it would be unlikely to publish an anti-Kennedy book since Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis is an editor there, and it doesn't exhaust itself trying to lasso serious literature."

      The company may have been known for its secretive ways, but Mr. Sargent was visible among the New York elite, both during business hours and after. A strapping man, dapper and sociable, he was a voracious reader, an erudite speaker and, at one time, a poetry editor who worked with Theodore Roethke, the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner, who became a friend and, according to family lore, spent more than one night sleeping in the Sargent bathtub after an evening of imbibing.

      He dined with his famous authors — who included Daphne du Maurier, Peter Benchley, Alex Haley, Leon Uris and Stephen King — and other notable friends; attended A-list parties with socialites like Brooke Astor; frequented the opera; hobnobbed with movie stars. He was a friend and frequent escort of Mrs. Onassis, and hired her as an editor at Doubleday.

      "The guy liked dressing up in a tux and going out," his son said. "The publishing world was his world, and the social aspect was part of it. It all folded together."

      John Turner Sargent was born on June 26, 1924, and spent his early years in Cedarhurst, on Long Island. (No one in the family knows where, exactly, he was born, his son said, and his birth certificate has not yet been found.) His grandfather was the well-known botanist Charles Sprague Sargent; his father, Charles Jr., worked in finance. He went to St. Mark's School in Massachusetts and spent a year at Harvard before joining the Navy. Prevented from fighting overseas because of a punctured eardrum, he spent the war years "loading bombers in Florida," his son said.

      After his discharge he worked briefly for Time magazine and then began at Doubleday, writing book jacket copy, in the late 1940s. Over the next several years he read manuscripts, sold syndication and subsidiary rights, worked as an advertising manager and editor and was business manager of several publishing divisions. As president of the company, he succeeded Douglas Black, who had succeeded Nelson Doubleday Sr.

      Mr. Sargent met Ms. Doubleday, a painter who now lives in Wyoming, when he was 28 and she was 18. After their divorce she waged a long battle, enlisting some other shareholders, to get the company to sell shares to the public, but her mother, her brother and her former husband all lined up against her and the effort failed. The company was finally sold to the German conglomerate Bertelsmann in 1986.

      A longtime colleague of Mr. Sargent, Samuel S. Vaughan, who served the company as editor in chief and publisher, died on Jan. 30.

      In addition to John Jr., Mr. Sargent's survivors include a daughter, Ellen; six grandchildren; his wife, the former Betty Nichols Kelly, whom he married in 1985; and two stepchildren, Elizabeth Lee Kelly and James Hamilton Kelly.


      John Turner Sargent Sr. and Neltje Doubleday are 8th cousins, both being 7XG-grandchildren of the Rev. John Ward (1606-1693) and his wife Alice (1612-1680).

  • Sources 
    1. [S1530] North of Crazy by Neltje. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2016.

    2. [S160] Wikipedia.

    3. [S1895] "Rose Bower Altar for Miss Wetmore." The New York Times, Friday, May 10, 1912.

    4. [S1532] The Rotches by John M. Bullard. New Bedford, Massachusetts, 1947.