John T. Sadler Jr., a longtime horse enthusiast who worked for W.R. Grace Co. for nearly half a century, died Thursday evening of complications from Alzheimer's disease. He was 82 and lived most of his life in northern Baltimore County.
The Sadler family, an offshoot of the Cockey and Merryman families, had been in the area north of Timonium since the 1600s. Mr. Sadler grew up on a Cockeysville farm that is now an industrial park.
From an early age, he loved horses and fox-hunting, according to his son John T. Sadler III. He grew up going to the tracks and would later take his family to the Baltimore County races for picnics.
"He grew up galloping thoroughbred race horses and had been around them his whole life," said the son, who lives in Aiken, S.C.
Mr. Sadler served as a lieutenant in World War II and received a Purple Heart. He also served in the Korean War.
When he came out of the service, he and his wife, Martha Marburg, already had one child with another on the way. So, while he would have loved to work in the horse industry, his son said, he needed to find a steady job. The couple eventually had seven children.
Mr. Sadler took a job at W.R. Grace and Co. as a purchasing agent, buying chemicals for the company's Davidson division. He remained there for 45 years, retiring in the mid-1990s.
Mr. Sadler, who was elected to the McDonogh School's Athletic Hall of Fame when in his 70s, wanted his children to have every educational opportunity available, his son said.
"Neither he nor my mother went to college, and his goal was for all seven of us to earn college degrees, and they all have," he said. "He was also really proud that all seven of us are still married to our original spouses."
Once his children had graduated from college, Mr. Sadler could fully indulge his passion for horses. In the 1980s and 1990s, he owned several racehorses that he kept at the Pimlico and Laurel racetracks, and he kept his riding horses at a Seminary Road farm where his wife had grown up. That farm, like his own childhood home, no longer exists.
Those changes were particularly hard on him because his family went back so many generations on the land in that part of the county, said his daughter Emily Garland of Nashville, Tenn.
"He hated to see the loss of the big farms and the developers moving in," she said.
A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. tomorrow at Sherwood Episcopal Church, 5 Sherwood Road, Cockeysville.
In addition to his wife, son and daughter, he is survived by another son, Louis McLean Sadler of Baltimore; and four other daughters, Robbin Dungey of Baltimore, Mary Dohony of Hereford, Katie McDonald of New Port Richey, Fla., and Trina Carroll of Hereford. He is also survived by a sister, Catherine Chapman of Ruxton; and 14 grandchildren.