John Turner Sargent, Sr. , who helped Nelson Doubleday Jr. turn Doubleday & Co. into one of the most powerful publishing entities of its time, died February 5. He was 87 years old. Sargent, father of Macmillan president John Sargent, Jr. , joined Doubleday as an assistant to then president Douglas Black, who had recently succeeded Nelson Doubleday, Sr. as president. Following Black’s retirement in 1961, Sargent succeeded him as president and subsequently became CEO and chairman.
Under the Sargent/Nelson Doubleday, Jr partnership, Doubleday & Company owned not only the Doubleday Publishing Co. but a number of related companies, most notably the Literary Guild and Doubleday book clubs and the 26-strong Doubleday Bookshop chain. The company also owned printing and manufacturing plants, the book exporter Feffer & Simons and an in-house advertising agency. In addition, Sargent expanded Doubleday’s international presence through its long-established London publishing outpost and subsequent partnership in the U.K.'s Book Club Associates, along with a strong independent Canadian imprint. Sargent was still at the helm of the company when Nelson Doubleday bought the Mets in 1980 and when Doubleday was sold to Bertelsmann in 1986.
Among the authors published by Doubleday during Sargent’s tenure were Daphne du Maurier, Victoria Holt, Irving Stone, Dwight Eisenhower, Leon Uris, Arthur Hailey, Theodore Roethke, Alex Haley, Stephen King, Gay Talese, and Peter Benchley.
Outside of publishing Sargent served on the board of the New York Public Library from the late ’60s on as well on the New York City Arts Commission. Additionally, he was a long-time trustee of the New York Zoological Society--now known as the Wildlife Conservation Society.
In lieu of flowers, the family would be grateful for contributions in Sargent’s memory to the New York Public Library or the Food Pantry and Shelter ministry administered by St. Bart’s church.
A memorial service is being planned for next month.