Goodbye, Dick: Will the circle be unbroken?

- Bob Sprague,

Dick was part of our circle, and now he has left us.

Dick SargentDrawn first by our children adopted in Latin America, we began gathering at the Sargent home, then near Brackett School, in 1997. When Dick and Susan moved to a larger home not far from Bishop, the families followed, there and at the homes of those in our thoughtful group. Over the years, six families ate pizza and talked about our children after they went off to play or, when they were older, didn’t want to be around us.

In November, we met in their new home in Medford, for the last time with Dick. We nearly circled him and, as we talked, Dick, bed-ridden with amyloidosis, held forth in long emotional moments, recalling his life and his strained efforts to shape feeling into words.

With few words of our own, we said goodbye then.

As his son Steve wrote for a Globe obituary, “Richard Charles Sargent finished his last Times Crossword at home on Wednesday, Dec. 11.” He was 81 years old.

Friends are invited to celebrate Dick’s life and memory on Sunday, Dec. 22, at 3:30 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church at 147 High St, Medford, with a reception to follow.

In lieu of flowers, contributions in his memory would be welcome at the Massachusetts Organization for Addiction Recovery, 29 Winter St. Boston, MA 02108,

My wife and I first met Dick at a Belmont Burger King about 1996. Our daughter from Paraguay was playing on the slide, and a child with a similar complexion joined her.

A man sat at a table, and I thought — in spite of myself — “Could someone that old be the dad?”

It could. We met Dick, and a friendship began.

Next to his voluble wife, Dick was relatively quiet, yet when stirred about an issue, his positions were as clear as his penetrating blue eyes.

Forged by tough Depression-era years on farms in Indiana, he grew to a life-changing counselor to sufferers of addiction in prison. With longtime friend Bill Wilson, he spent nearly half of his life helping people conquer addiction.

fter earning a bachelor’s degree at Indiana State, he went into the U.S. Army and then took advantage of the GI Bill to study in Germany. Fluent in German, he discussed their philosophers. Their complexities attracted him, and more than once I heard him explicate Heidegger. And he would, if you asked, explicate commercial insurance policies, which he did at Lehrer and Madden of Natick, where he had a long career.

He is survived by his wife, his children, Lucy of Medford, Nicolas of Watertown, Laura Sargent Hall of Edgartown, Anne Sargent Arcano of Bronxville N.Y., and Stephen Sargent of Nashua N.H.; as well as nine grandchildren.

He was thankful for the groundbreaking treatment he received for his amyloidosis from Boston Medical Center, and for the compassion and dedication displayed by his caregivers, Anita and Joan Frank.

The clouds that gather round the setting sun
Do take a sober colouring from an eye
That hath kept watch o’er man’s mortality;
Another race hath been, and other palms are won.
Thanks to the human heart by which we live,
Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,
To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.

Wordworth, “Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood” (conclusion)

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