SHERIDAN — Renowned artist and philanthropist Neltje, 86, died peacefully at her ranch in Banner Friday, April 30, 2021, leaving a legacy of art and philanthropy regionally and nationally.
Neltje was born in New York City as Neltje Doubleday in 1934 to Ellen McCarter and Nelson Doubleday. She and older brother Nelson Doubleday Jr. were raised in Oyster Bay, Long Island. An abstract expressionist, Neltje was essentially a self-taught artist who moved to Wyoming in 1966 and gained distinction as a rancher, developer, entrepreneur, educator, retailer, designer and benefactor.
Her paternal grandparents were Neltje Blanchan De Graff and Frank N. Doubleday, the founder of the U.S. Doubleday publishing company. Her maternal grandfather, Thomas McCarter, was head of New Jersey Public Service Commission and a benefactor of Princeton University.
Neltje married John Turner Sargent, Sr. in May 1953 and later divorced in 1965 after having two children, Ellen and John Turner Sargent, Jr.
In 2005, she was recognized as one of Wyoming’s pre-eminent artists with the Governor’s Arts Award. Neltje’s work has been featured in collections at the Smithsonian, the Yellowstone Art Museum in Billings, Montana, the IBM Corp. in Denver, the UW Art Museum and the Wyoming State Museum in Cheyenne, among others. In addition, her work is in private collections in California, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania and Wyoming.
From her home in Sheridan County, she has been a major contributor to the community, including saving the Historic Sheridan Inn from demolition and renovating it for public use; and contributing to the Sheridan County YMCA, the Sheridan Young Writers Camp, Sheridan Memorial Hospital, Sheridan College and other entities.
She also founded the Jentel Foundation, which awards artists and writers from across the country with monthlong artistic residencies. And the estate gift of her Sheridan County ranch to UW, to serve as the university’s Neltje Center for Contemporary Visual and Literary Arts, constitutes the largest private gift in UW’s history.
Neltje and her business partner, Butch Jellis, donated nearly 100 acres of the Wrench Ranch property in North Sheridan to Sheridan College for its AgriPark, and donated land for the creation of Doubleday Park.