Larry Sagers, Utah gardening guru, dies at 63
As a horticulture agent, a radio host and a newspaper columnist, Larry Sagers helped thousands of Utahns learn how to grow vegetables, plant trees and landscape their yards.
"He loved gardening and everything about it. That was his passion," said Diane Sagers of her 63-year-old husband who died Tuesday of mesothelioma. Sagers had been diagnosed 19 months ago with the rare form of cancer.
Sagers is best known as the voice of KSL Radio's Greenhouse Show. He first appeared on the Saturday morning program in 1982, when he worked as a horticulture agent for Utah State University Extension Services in Salt Lake County. In 1984, he took over as host. The show initially began as a half-hour summer program, but became so popular through the years that KSL expanded it to a three-hour program that aired year-round.
Besides his radio show, Sagers also wrote thousands of weekly gardening columns for the Deseret News. Listeners and readers appreciated Sagers' wealth of knowledge, his patience and his consistency.
"He didn't miss a show very often," said his wife, noting that he continued to host the show from their home in Erda when radiation, chemotherapy and surgery left him unable to travel to the radio station.
"People would ask him questions about gardening wherever we went and he never got cranky about it," Diane Sagers said. "He just always felt that it was a worthwhile thing for him to be doing and that people needed to know how to garden."
On Tuesday KSL's Facebook page had more than a hundred posts praising Sager's teaching abilities. "I cannot imagine a Saturday morning without hearing his voice on the radio, encouraging even those of us who were born without gardening skills to get outside and try," wrote Lorretta Park.
Added Sandy Fausett: "He never made anyone feel that what they were asking was silly [he] just tried to make us all smarter."
During his career, Sagers won numerous awards from the National Garden Writers Association, and in 2008, he was named to the National Association of County Agriculture Agents Hall of Fame.
Sagers was born June 25, 1949, and grew up in Tooele with his six brothers and sisters. His mother, an avid gardener, introduced him to plants early on. After graduating from Tooele High School, he attended Brigham Young University. The large campus initially overwhelmed the small-town boy so he decided to take a tree-care class with only six students. The subject matter, and the dynamic professor, set him on a career path to focus on horticulture.
After graduating from BYU, Sagers earned a master's degree from Utah State University. For a time, he co-owned a floral shop with his brother, before becoming a horticulture agent, first in Millard County and Utah County, and then spending 15 years in Salt Lake County.
Larry and Diane Sagers are the parents of six children and 21 grandchildren.
A funeral honoring the life of Larry Sagers will be held Tuesday at 11 a.m. at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Stansbury South Stake Center, 240 E. Interlochen Lane, Stansbury Park. Viewings will take place Monday from 6 to 8 p.m. at Tate's Mortuary, 110 S. Main St., Tooele; and before the funeral beginning at 9:30 a.m.