Arthur “Art” Sloth spent his career nurturing and educating children as a teacher and then principal for three decades in Minneapolis Public Schools.
In retirement, he devoted himself to his other passion: nurturing the plants, flowers and trees that he and his wife grew at their nursery on Crooked Lake in Andover.
The father of six also was a consummate family man, hosting regular family reunions full of games, friendly tournaments and laughter.
“It was evident he just loved kids. He was kind of a natural at it,” said his daughter, Christine “Kiki” Sloth, of Wright, Minn.
Surrounded by family and friends, Sloth, 95, died on Jan. 7 of complications from cancer at his home in Brainerd.
Born to Danish immigrants in Chicago, Sloth graduated from high school and then served in the U.S. Army from 1943 to 1946, rising to the rank of corporal in the military police. He served stateside at Oak Ridge, Tenn., during World War II.
He attended a junior college in Iowa before continuing his studies at Hamline University in St. Paul, where he earned his teaching degree. He later earned a master’s degree in education from the University of Minnesota.
In 1951, Sloth married Gladys Brumitt in Kankakee, Ill. The couple had met in Chicago when Sloth was home on break from college and Brumitt was studying nursing. They settled in the Twin Cities when Sloth began teaching physical education in the Minneapolis school district.
He eventually was promoted to principal, a position he held for 20 years, and spent most of his time at Jenny Lind Elementary School on the city’s North Side.
One of his favorite memories was teaching some of his youngest students how to play kickball. Sloth decided to show them a good, strong kick. The ball “went right over the fence and right into the neighbor’s burn barrel, like a hole-in-one,” Kiki Sloth said. The awed children cheered in delight and begged him to do it again.
As principal, Sloth liked to do little magic tricks for the kids as they waited to board their buses. When a class passed him in the hallway, Sloth in comic fashion would sometimes join the end of the line. “He just had fun with it,” his daughter said.
Sloth retired from the Minneapolis district in 1981 and turned his focus to running the family’s nursery business.
Soon after the couple started having children, they moved from an apartment in the city to a home on nearly 3 acres on Crooked Lake in what was then rural Anoka County. They used part of the property to grow a robust garden, and started a “dig your own pine tree” business where customers could dig up a sapling themselves.
“He had such a green thumb. We had a huge garden growing up,” Kiki Sloth said. “He always had a table of fresh produce.”
The summertime business expanded, with customers digging up peonies, hostas and lilies, and eventually blossomed into a mom-and-pop seasonal nursery with a wide assortment of plants, trees and shrubs. Sloth loved to help customers select plants and show how to make them flourish.
The couple retired from the nursery business in 1996 and moved to a 120-acre tract near Glen, Minn. He planted nearly 200 tomatoes every season, as well as apple trees that he invited family and friends to pick at harvest time.
“When I think of my dad, I think of gardening, fishing and family,” Kiki Sloth said.
Sloth was preceded in death by his wife and daughter Rebecca. Besides his daughter Kiki, he is survived by sons Stephen, of Minneapolis; Alan, of Andover; Gary, of Brainerd; and Joel, of Soldotna, Alaska; and 15 grandchildren and 25 great-grandchildren. Services have been held.