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Joseph Sargent, 83; cofounded Vt.’s Killington ski area

KILLINGTON, Vt. — Joseph Sargent, a cofounder of Vermont’s Killington ski area, has died, 56 years after he helped begin the process that led to the opening of the resort that is now the largest ski area in the Eastern United States.

Mr. Sargent died Wednesday in West Hartford, Conn. He was 83. The cause of death was not ­released.

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In 1956, Mr. Sargent worked with Preston Leete Smith to found the Sherburne Corp., which carved the resort out of the Calvin Coolidge State Forest in what was then the town of Sherburne.

On Dec. 13, 1958, Killington opened with seven trails, two surface lifts, and a Depression-era building serving as a base lodge.

‘‘He was a financial genius and an everyday guy,’’ Phil Camp, publisher of the Vermont Standard and Killington’s first marketing director and third employee, told the Rutland Herald. ‘‘And when it came time to get out and direct traffic, Joe was there helping.”

His obituary said Mr. Sargent was known for his business acumen, helping to found a number of insurance companies, and for his work for a variety of nonprofit organizations in Connecticut.

Mr. Sargent leaves his wife, Mary Tennant Sargent, four children, and 11 grandchildren.

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