The Rev. Edward T. Sargus, a popular priest whose career spanned more than 60 years, died of cancer Aug. 19 at Hollywood Medical Center in Hollywood, Fla. He was 91.
Father Sargus was born in Newark, Ohio, and raised in the Allegany County town of Westernport. He began studying for the priesthood in 1931 at St. Charles College in Catonsville, and earned a bachelor's degree from St. Mary's Seminary on Paca Street in 1935.
He earned a degree in theology from the St. Mary's Seminary and University School of Theology and Ecumenical Institute in Roland Park in 1939, the year he was ordained into the priesthood.
He became a much-loved presence at his first assignment, spending the next 12 years as assistant pastor at St. Bernardine Roman Catholic Church at Edmondson Avenue and Mount Holly Street in West Baltimore.
"He was a great character, jokester and storyteller, and always full of good humor," said the Rev. Michael J. Roach, who had attended the church as a child and is now pastor of St. Bartholomew Roman Catholic Church in Manchester.
He later served as assistant at St. Alphonsus and St. Matthew churches in Baltimore, and pastor at St. Peter the Apostle in Libertytown from 1958 to 1961. He moved to St. Martin in Baltimore before spending a decade as pastor of St. Stephen Roman Catholic Church in Bradshaw.
In 1973, he was assigned as pastor of the St. Anthony Shrine in Emmitsburg. He retired there in 1978, advising friends that he desired to live in a "warmer climate."
Even though he settled in Hollywood, where he was an assistant pastor at Nativity Roman Catholic Church and a chaplain at the medical center, he never forgot his days in Baltimore and the parishioners of his first church.
"I really think his happiest years were at St. Bernardine's. He had a genuine love for priestly work, and he was well-loved there," said Monsignor Arthur Bastress, pastor of St. Alphonsus. "His homilies were very pointed and focused. He had something to say, said it, and that was it."
Monsignor Bastress recalled his discussions as a young man with Father Sargus about his decision to study for the priesthood.
"He had little quips that helped you out in life," he said.
He also recalled the sound of Father Sargus' laughter echoing through the church. "He was a short man and very jovial. His laughter was contagious and when he laughed, it was quite hearty," he said.
The Rev. Edward M. Miller, current pastor at St. Bernardine's, recalled a return visit by Father Sargus several years ago.
"During the restoration of the gold dome we found that it had been nicked by gunfire. On a visit to the church, Father Sargus looked up and saw the holes," Father Miller said.
"After he returned to Florida, I got a letter from him admitting that he had been shooting pigeons sitting on the dome with a BB gun from a third-floor window in the rectory," Father Miller said. "He enclosed a $2,000 check with a note saying, 'This is my restitution.'"
When St. Bernardine's reopened its parochial school in 1996, Father Sargus sent the school a check for $5,000, Father Miller said. "He was always very encouraging of what we were trying to do here," he said.
Father Sargus enjoyed collecting jokes, friends said.
"He simply enjoyed everything in life," Monsignor Bastress said.
Graveside services were held yesterday at New Cathedral Cemetery in Baltimore.
Father Sargus is survived by a sister, Martha Adele Sargus of Hollywood.