Sargent died Wednesday in West Hartford, Conn. He was 83. The cause of death was not released.
In 1956 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 (http://bit.ly/RJgidt). "And when it came time to get out and direct traffic . Joe was there helping. If it needed something to get to the top of the mountain, Joe put an old military knapsack on his back."
Smith said that in the early days Sargent wasn't afraid to get his hands dirty.
"Sargent in the early days pitched in on trail clearing or whatever had to be done, as everyone associated did, since funds were very limited," Smith said.
His obituary said Sargent was known for his business acumen, helping found a number of insurance companies and his work for a variety of non-profit
Sargent is survived by his wife Mary Tennant Sargent, four children and 11 grandchildren.