Official Obituary of

Stephen L. Sargent

June 7, 1941 ~ February 2, 2024 (age 82) 82 Years Old

Stephen Sargent Obituary

On February 2, the renewable energy community lost a true solar pioneer and long-term friend. Steve Sargent was born on June 7, 1941, in Philadelphia but lived in New York City for the first nine years of his life, as his father was a psychology professor at Columbia University. His family later moved to Scottsdale, Arizona, where Steve went to high school. He played clarinet in the concert band and saxophone in the dance band. At Arizona State University he earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering.

It was at ASU that Steve first developed his lifelong love of solar energy, and in 1963 he became a member of the American Solar Energy Society (ASES), which was founded in Arizona just a decade earlier. While researching a term paper on the use of solar energy in India, Steve saw the potential for solar energy to improve the lives of people in developing nations, an interest he carried with him for the rest of his life. He won a one-year Fulbright Fellowship to study solar energy in Israel, where much of the pioneering solar research was being done. After his Fellowship, he went on to the famous Solar Energy Lab at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where, in 1971, he received his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering.

Steve took an engineering teaching position at the University of Maryland and promptly developed a course titled, “Solar Energy Applications for Buildings” that brought engineering and architecture students together to design solar buildings. After the Arab oil embargo of 1973, the U.S. Energy Research and Development Administration, the predecessor of DOE, began to fund research in solar energy. Steve jumped at the opportunity to join the government program, and he took on the role of leading the nation’s solar collector development program. Steve also served as a member of the team that developed the National Plan for Solar Heating and Cooling of Buildings.

But Steve missed the West and so in 1979 he moved to Golden, Colorado to join the Department of Energy’s Site Office. His favorite job was managing the Native American Renewable Energy Program, as it presented similar opportunities to deploying renewable energy in developing countries. When Steve retired from DOE in 2004, he became involved in volunteer work for ASES and for its local chapter, the Colorado Renewable Energy Society (CRES), for which he had been a founding member. Between 2007 and 2011 Steve served in many roles for CRES, including Awards Committee Chairman, Secretary, Vice President, and President.

Steve was always attracted to the elegance of solar architecture. Steve and his former wife, Grace Griego, designed and built a beautiful passive solar house along the road up to Lookout Mountain in Golden. Utilizing the principles of direct solar gain, shading, thermal mass, and natural ventilation, together with the latest energy efficiency measures, the home requires very little energy for heating in the winter, and it stays cool in the summer.

Steve loved to visit other countries and traveled extensively throughout his life. He worked as a visiting scientist in Melbourne, Australia in 1968-69. Several years prior to that, in the summer of 1962, Steve and his late younger brother, Dr. Dave Sargent, hitchhiked throughout Europe, staying in youth hostels. They also spent some time in Leningrad and Moscow to celebrate their parents’ (both Americans) meeting each other 25 years earlier on a Russian collective farm.

It was his parents’ influence that got Steve interested in progressive politics. He supported the 1960 JFK presidential campaign. While in graduate school at the University of Wisconsin, Steve became a vocal anti-war activist, which wasn’t unusual on a large college campus at that time but was for a graduate engineering student. In recent years, Steve took part in many progressive activities as a member of the Jefferson Unitarian Church in Golden.

Steve was a loving father to his two daughters, Miriam Judith Sargent of Toronto and Eliana Lucia Griego Sargent of Golden. Miriam was born in 1971 with a rare and very disabling physical condition and has lived most of her life in a special needs group home in Toronto. Steve would visit her frequently including regular summer visits as long as six weeks. Steve and his daughter, Eliana, valued the Hispanic heritage on Eliana’s mother’s side, and Steve always remembered fondly the Quinceañera coming of age party that Steve and Grace held for Eliana on her 15th birthday.

Steve was a lifelong lover of the outdoors. He enjoyed downhill and cross-country skiing, biking, hiking, and river trips. An especially memorable trip was in 2006 when he joined Phoenix friends to hike down into the Grand Canyon and up the other side to the North Rim.

Steve is survived by his daughters, Miriam Judith Sargent of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and Eliana Lucia Griego Sargent of Golden, Colorado, nephew Michael Stansfeld Sargent of Northampton, Mass., nieces Alison Sargent of Paris and Kayla Sargent of Mexico City, several Sargent cousins on his father’s side, and Horne cousins on his mother’s side. He is also survived by his partner Christel Detsch of Lafayette, Colorado.


A Celebration of Life service will be held at the Jefferson Unitarian Church in Golden on

April 27 at 11 am. The link to the livestream is

Memorial donations may be made to Native Renewables ( or the Jefferson Unitarian Church (

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Memorial Service
April 27, 2024

11:00 AM
Jefferson Unitarian Church
14350 West 32nd Avenue
Golden, CO 80401
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