Louise Roy Georgene Sagert passed away peacefully at Purdy Pavilion at UBC on Monday, August 20, shortly after her 89th birthday. She is survived by her son, Bill Sagert; daughter, Phyllis Webster (Barrie); grandchildren Behan Webster (Cheryl-Ann) and Glenys Webster ( Paul Luchkow) and extended family.
Mom was born in Vulcan, Alberta, on July 10, 1918 to Edna and John Helmers. She was soon the “big” sister to three brothers ( Leonard, Don and Jack), all of whom towered over her when they were adolescents. Mom was a born scholar and managed to escape many household chores by studiously reading a textbook, behind which was propped a novel! After a year of normal school, she began teaching in the country near Edmonton and at age 19 taught grades 1 to 12. Our grandmother, Edna, told us that in her first school, the oldest boys tried to intimidate her on their first day. Mom picked up a large pile of books and dropped them on the floor causing a large bang, after which she quietly invited the young men to take their seats. There were no further incidents!
In 1940, Mom married Herbert Sagert. When Phyllis and Bill were three and two years old, the family took the train from Edmonton to Vernon where they built a beautiful blue- roofed home on Pleasant Valley Road.
Mom taught grade 3 for many years at Vernon Elementary and Harwood Schools, later moving to junior and senior high school where she taught English and mathematics. In the days of yearly evaluations from principals and superintendents, Mom received glowing reports from all who observed her teaching. One principal wrote, ” Her teaching is interesting and stimulating. Children who pass through her hands are fortunate.” Many young people claimed that she was the teacher who revealed the mysteries and magic of reading to them. Phyllis remembers sitting in Mom’s classroom and admiring the coloured chalk drawings of birds on the borders of the black boards.
She moved to Vancouver in a 1966, the same year she completed her Master’s degree in Education. Both her B.Ed and master’s degrees were done through years of correspondence courses and summer schools. Phyllis and Bill remember happy, sun-filled summers at Acadia Camp and Fort Camp at UBC; they played while Mom studied. It is a great sorrow to all of us that Mom did not pursue the PhD in Reading Development for which she had been accepted in 1966.
Mom spent many years at John Oliver High School where she admired the work ethic of her students, many of whom worked long hours in family businesses as well as excelling in their academic work. During the summer of 1967, she spent a memorable two months teaching teachers north of Kampala, Uganda which began her continued passion for all things African. She helped one young woman through junior and senior high school by paying for school fees.
After several years of struggling with Meniere’s Syndrome, Mom ended her 37-year career by teaching in the Children’s Hospital. Her ability to analyse each student’s learning style and her vast knowledge of the curriculum from grades l to 12 helped many young people continue their education.
In her latter years, she enjoyed writing letters, researching a wide variety of subjects without the benefit of the Internet, reading books on topics ranging from physics to financial matters, literature and history. She continued her life-long interest in art through a collection of books. Her endless love of learning is reflected in every book and piece of paper in her house through meticulous notes kept on every subject. Phyllis was delighted to find that “Imagining Argentina”, a novel she loves to teach and which she had sent to Mom, was annotated very thoroughly with suggestions for enrichment materials! She also maintained her excellent diction. One principal’s report commented that Mrs Sagert, ” speaks in a soft, pleasing voice and her excellent diction is reflected in both the speech and oral reading of her pupils.” Mom came from a time when elocution lessons were considered a part of a young woman’s education and those lessons were remembered until her last sentence.
At Mom’s request there will be no service. Those wishing to honour Mom’s life are welcome to send a donation in her name to The Pacific Baroque Orchestra (PO Box 3215, Stn Terminal, Vancouver, BC, V6B 3X8 ), in which Glenys and Paul play, and which she admired greatly. If you would like to write to the family, Phyllis at 71 Wildwood Park, Winnipeg, MB R3T 0C8 will happily reply.