STORIES AND TALES OF OUR TOWN
compiled by Roger Breeze
John F. Sargent
One of Bolton’s Hometown Heroes
June 21, 1931 to May 25, 1991
The community group Bolton Loco recently established a program called Hometown Heroes, which honors military folks with local roots who served our country. One of those chosen was Air Force serviceman John F. Sargent.
John was born in Somerville at the end of the Depression and was the second-oldest of six children born to Charles and Catherine Sargent. From his very first summer, he would spend every summer on South Bolton Road with his mom and siblings at “Camp Catherine.” His mom’s parents had named this area in her honor because she loved it so much. Over the years, many family members became neighbors and had small camp-style homes along South Bolton Road. Mom, John and his siblings would rejoin their dad back in Needham for the school year.
While serving in the Air Force during the Korean War, John was stationed at Upper Heyford Base in England. The base was a 75-mile train ride from London. On one of his trips with friends to London he attended a dance and met his future wife, Kathleen. At the end of the evening he wanted a next date and she suggested meeting at church the next morning. To assure she would show up, he gave her his watch, saying that he would reclaim it when they met the next morning. The next morning, he was at church bright and early for the first service, but there was no Kathleen!
John stayed for the next service, still no Kathleen. He stood in front of the church and finally, three hours later, she showed up! It seems she overslept. On their second date, John gave Kathleen a platinum diamond watch of her own, not wanting to lose his own watch. Not long afterward, on St Patrick’s Day, they were married in Kathleen’s hometown of Dublin, Ireland. The only member of John’s family attending the wedding was his brother, Gene, who was in the Army, stationed in Germany.
John was an engineer and worked for RCA and later at Wang Laboratories. While at Wang, he was promoted to manager of manufacturing, but due to the excessive time demands of the job, which severely cut into his family time, he went back to his old job, because his family was more important to him than the title.
Once, when John and Kathleen were sitting at the beach in Florida, John found a large handful of pink pistachio shells that someone had discarded. He gave them to Kathleen, telling her they were beautiful pink sea shells. She safely packed them for the trip home and made sure that all of their children received at least a few of these special pink “sea shells.” Soon everyone realized this was a good practical joke: Mom had been fooled!
John and Kathleen moved from their home in Hudson to their South Bolton Road home in 1984 to spend their final years full-time in the place John had always loved, Camp Catherine.
In his later years, one of John’s favorite weekly activities was to take the grandchildren for ice cream or candy at Hebert’s.
John and Kathleen are buried with many members of the family at Old South Cemetery.
Donations for Hometown Hero banners are still being accepted by Bolton Loco and the Bolton Fire Department.
With special thanks to John’s daughter, Anne Sargent and his niece, Karen Regan, for sharing their memories of John.