Keith Sanders Sargent, 93, of Hermitage, Tennessee passed away on January 18th, 2017. A descendant of ancestors from Sawdust Valley, Tennessee, he was born and reared by his parents, Elizabeth and Wallace Sargent (Miss Lizzie and Cap’n), on a farm just five miles east of Berry Field (now Nashville International Airport). He survived polio as a child, and graduated from Donelson High School in 1941. Because of the effects of polio he could not qualify for military service, so during WWII he worked first for Tennessee Aircraft in Nashville, and for the last two years of the war he transferred to New Orleans and worked for the parent company, Consolidated-Vultee, which made the PBY flying boats.
After the war Keith returned to Nashville where the family had moved from the farm to a big house in the city, and he set about earning a degree in Industrial Studies from Tennessee Polytechnic Institute in Cookeville in 1950. During their enrollment at Tennessee Tech, he met his future wife, Mary Beth Hollister, whom he invited to join the school’s flying club. While learning to fly, they also earned each other’s love and devotion, and were married at Cookeville Presbyterian Church on May 20, 1951. Both husband and wife obtained their private pilot certificates in 1953, and aviation remained a large part of their lives through the years, even as they welcomed three children into their family.
Keith’s affinity for tailwheel airplanes motivated him to acquire, in succession, a Luscombe 8A; Piper PA-12 Super Cruiser; Cessna 195; and a Piper PA-22/20 Pacer, which became a full-fledged member of the family for 30 years. He gave numerous “first flight” rides to family and friends in his flying career, and earned his instrument rating in 1969. He flew all the way into his “Golden Octogenarian Years,” logging a total of 2,030 hours of flight time. He was an active member of the Tennessee Short Wing Piper Club, EAA Chapter 162, and the Quiet Birdmen. Notably, Sargent received the Federal Aviation Administration Wright Brothers “Master Pilot” Award in 2009, in recognition for his 50 years of aeronautical experience and service to the aviation community. He was also an active member of the Civil Air Patrol – The United States Air Force Auxiliary, Nashville Group III Squadron, for more than 55 years, and attained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He was awarded “Communicator of the Year” for conducting a weekly radio net for the Tennessee Wing of the C.A.P. in 1991.
He made his full-time career working in the Planning Commission of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville, from which he retired in 1989; he received their Safety Award for his services as Chairman of the Safety Coordinators Committee (1984 -1985). In addition to his career job, he created and was sole proprietor of Kesco Equipment Company plus he did some local aerial photography from his airplanes. He was an active member of Hermitage United Methodist Church, and received a plaque of recognition from HUMC in 2008 for his more than 30 years of dedicated service as a Chancel Choir member.
He was predeceased by two brothers, Jim “Jay” Wallace Sargent (Lorene) and Clifford H. Sargent (Laurine); and a sister, Frances Sargent Dobson. He is survived by his wife, Mary Beth, of 65 years; two sons, Leslie Sargent (Marcia) of Eagleville, TN; Laurice “Sandy” Sargent (Marie) of Old Hickory, TN; a daughter, Holly Sargent of Mt. Juliet; a granddaughter, Isabela Sargent; a great-nephew, Conor Hargrove; and a number of nieces and nephews. A Memorial Service/Celebration of Life will be held at 2:00pm on February 4, 2017 at Hermitage United Methodist Church, 205 Belinda Dr. Hermitage, TN. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Easter Seals of TN for the Polio Support Group, #2-260, 750 Old Hickory Blvd., Brentwood, TN 37027, or a charity of your choice.
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