John Sargent, 1933 - 2020

We have learnt, with regret, that alumnus John Sargent passed away on 30th July 2020 following a lengthy period of ill health. John graduated from the University with a Biological Sciences BSc in 1955, before completing a Botany PhD in 1957. It was also while studying at Leicester that he met his wife Pat Sargent (née Darvell), who is also an alumnus of Leicester (History BA 1956).

After graduating, John completed a two-year Fellowship at the University of Wisconsin in the USA, before he and Pat settled in Oxfordshire. John began working at the University of Oxford in the Department of Agriculture, but in his spare time built Mendota House in Islip as a home for himself, Pat and later their children, quite literally from the ground up. This feat was made all the more remarkable by the fact John did so single-handedly, even through the harsh winter of 1963.

Later in his career, John transferred to the University of Cambridge, but returned to Oxfordshire in 1978 as part of a unit dealing with Electron Microscopy and Weed Research based in Begbroke. In the mid-1980s John retired, but set up a part time consultancy in Electron Microscopy.

In his later years, John served his local community as a Parish Councillor and later as Chair of the Parish Council. He was part of a local lobbying group for the resurfacing of the A34 to reduce noise from traffic, and part of a committee that secured an agreement to ban small planes flying over Islip while going to and from nearby Kidlington Airport. He also instigated many new programmes and policies for his local community, including cinema evenings at the local village hall, founding of the Short Mat Bowls Club and securing a ‘tax holiday’ for Islip residents during the 2009 recession.

Also a talented photographer and craftsman, John captured village life on camera and produced furniture, doors and signage for residents of Islip. John quickly developed a reputation as a well-respected councillor and neighbour and was known locally as a great source of knowledge and for his persistence and quiet humour.

We are most grateful to John and Pat for the support they have given to the University for many years.

Based on words by Pat Sargent and David and Sue Davies.