S: Robert L. Sharp's Biography
FC: Robert Lee Sharp | "Live so that when your children think of fairness & integrity, they think of you." -H. Jackson Brown
1: When I think of how to describe Robert Lee Sharp, these words first come to mind: Honest. Hardworking. Respected. Humble. and Papa. Papa is a man of integrity whose Christian values and love for our Lord lead him every day of his life. As someone blessed enough to be related to him, and as one of us that strive to be ‘apples not falling far from the tree', I think it is important to know where Mr. Sharp, R.L., Bob, Dad, and of course, Papa's roots come from. Here is a glimpse into Robert Lee Sharp's impressive and fascinating journey, thus far.
2: Papa's Grandparents When Papa thinks back on his own grandparents, he has vivid memories of Lewis Henderson Sharp and Mary Mitchell Sharp, his paternal grandparents. In the late 1800’s before Oklahoma became a state and was still an Indian Territory, Lewis Sharp spent his days at the sawmill. Using the water-powered saws at the mill, he split timber and floated the lumber down river to the Indian reservations to build their homes. While visiting Grandpa and Grandma Sharp in McAlester, Oklahoma, four-year old Bobby and older brother David were doing their standard search for candy at Grandpa and Grandma Sharp’s house. After assuming they had discovered a box of chocolates, they quickly devoured the treats and rejoined the family. Not too much later, both boys were sprinting towards the outhouse. Their “chocolates” were in fact Ex-lax. Fortunately, Papa made it to the outhouse just in time but David found himself halfway through the yard in a much different predicament. Virginia (Ginny) Ferguson was the only grandparent Papa knew on his mother’s side. When she was a young girl, Virginia suffered from an extremely high fever and her brain was never fully functional, which prevented her from ever learning to read or write. The grandfather Papa never met was a 42-year-old cowboy. "Cowboy" Ferguson and Virginia Woods married around 1904, and when she became pregnant at age 22, he ran off never to return. Edna Marie, Papa's future mother, was Virginia’s only child. Virginia's brother, David Woods, later reconnected with their father in Arizona around 1925, but neither Ginny or Edna Marie wanted anything to do with him, no matter how much David tried. Ginny worked extremely hard washing dishes at Kiowa Café so that she and her daughter could make ends meet. A memory Papa recalls is hiding his Grandma Ferguson’s snuff with his brothers when they would visit. This would give Grandma fits and their mother would finally confront the boys and demand they return her snuff.
3: Mother | Father | Robert Lee Sharp | Grand Father | Grand Mother | Grand Mother | Virginia Woods Ferguson | 'Cowboy' Ferguson | Mary Mitchell Sharp | Lewis Henderson Sharp 1 | Grand Father | Edna Marie | Orin Watson Sharp | 1893 | 1969 | William M. Sharp b. 1806 | Mary A. Sharp b. 1828 | 1867 1938 | 1868 1950 | 1905 | 1998 | 1886 1973 | 1863 | 2.06.1929
4: Pop | Pop
5: It’s very evident where Papa’s commitment to hard work and strong values come from. His mother, Edna Marie Ferguson, whom we knew as “Mom Sharp,” was a hard worker her entire life. In high school, Marie was the class valedictorian and the school gave her cardboard boxes, five dollars, and a train ticket to Edmond, Oklahoma, to attend college. She worked in a boarding house cooking and cleaning and the second year she tutored athletes. Marie never returned home until she earned her Life Certificate to be a teacher in two years, which was her career for many years. She earned $60 a month, and the third year earned $90 per month. Later, her son would begin his teaching career earning $250 per month. Papa’s father, Orin Watson, better known as “O.W.” and whom we knew as “Pop Sharp,” also grew up in the small town of Kiowa, Oklahoma, which had one restaurant and two grocery stores. While he only completed education through the fourth grade, Mr. Sharp lived up to his last name and eventually became the superintendent in the oil fields and was responsible for all the repairs in six different refineries. During his teenage years, he worked in the coal mines. O.W. entered WWI at the age of 23 and after training in Camp Travis, Texas, went to France. He was in the 90th Division which fought in the Meuse-Argonne and St. Mihiel Offensives. The division was under fire from August 20th to November 11th; seventy-five days without relief. During one battle, an explosion killed all of their horses and cooks. The soldiers were asked if anyone in the outfit could cook. O.W. was more than ready to be out of the trenches, so along with two other men, he claimed that he was an excellent cook. None of them had a clue how to cook and the soldiers were eating a lot of eggs until other meals were learned. However, O.W. must have picked it up pretty quickly because he ended up being the Mess Sergeant until the war ended. Later he worked for the ITIO (Indian Territory Illuminating Oil Company), which changed its name to City Service Oil Company during the Depression. At this time, oil was going for 10 cents a barrel, which is 40 gallons of gasoline. In recent years, the cost has climbed as high as $120 per barrel. | Mom & Pop Sharp | Kiowa, Oklahoma Pittsburg County
6: Army Discharge Papers for Orin Watson Sharp
8: Despite the smallness of the town they grew up in, Mom and Pop Sharp found love with each other and O.W. proposed when he was thirty-two and Marie was twenty. She hesitated because of the situation she was in, living with her mother who required extra attention and care. “You understand that you will be taking on the obligation of two women, right? Maybe we should think about this for awhile,” Marie suggested. O.W. responded, “I’ll come by your house tomorrow evening and if you’re sitting on the front porch in your red dress, I’ll take that as a yes. If you’re not, I’ll keep going.” Later in life, Mom Sharp told Bob that she had her red dress pressed and ready by two o-clock and his parents wed soon after. | They lived in this farmhouse near Jones County, Oklahoma, from 1951 - 1968.
9: Pictured left is Mom Sharp. Her mother, Grandma Ferguson, lived in a small silver trailer in the back yard of this white house in Jones County. It was understood that she was only invited in for dinner on special occasions. Her great- grandson, my dad, remembers knocking on her trailer door for cookies.
11: Birth & Early Years of Robert Lee Sharp | On February 6th, 1929, O.W. and Marie Sharp gave birth to their second baby boy in a farmhouse just south of Kiowa, Oklahoma. Robert Lee Sharp brought this young couple immense joy in the midst of the Great Depression. Edna was twenty-four years old at the time and they lived in Seminole, Oklahoma. David was born a year and four months earlier, but Bobby managed to quickly grow taller than his older brother. Their family car was a 1936 model costing 75 dollars. It had only 11,000 miles, but had been wrecked and the passengers did not survive the crash. O.W. tore the car down to the frame and worked on it all winter while Mom Sharp stripped out the bloody seat covers and sewed new ones. They drove the car for three years until it was wrecked again, but luckily this time everyone survived. After David and Bobby, the Sharp family had a third baby boy, Lewis. Bobby and David loved to pick on their baby brother. With the brothers being five and six years older than Lewis, their parents trusted them to watch after their little brother whenever they were away. On one particular day, Bobby and David decided they wanted to go about their own business instead of watching Lewis. The perfect alternative they came up with was to hoist him up on top of the firehouse that was too high for Lewis to climb down from. This kept him occupied the remainder of the day until mom and dad returned and the older brothers promptly helped their little brother down. Lewis never told on his brothers after threats to whoop him and due to fear of where they may stick him the next time he was left in their seemingly dependable care. When Lewis was about three or four years old, he had a red wagon that was his absolute pride and joy. While Lewis felt this metal mechanism on wheels was all he could ever want and more, Bobby and David decided to test this little wagon’s limits and came up with the grand idea to see if it could float. Of course, they wanted to see if it would float with their little brother in it. Fortunately for Lewis, after he was sent off into the slush pit, his trusty red wagon managed to stay afloat. Unfortunately, he was not able to row himself back to land until his considerate big brothers decided it was time. Eventually they tossed him a rope and pulled him back in his now very dirty, yet still beloved red wagon. Not too long after the floating escapade, Bobby and David decided to further test this red wagon’s abilities and wanted to know just how fast it could go. Again, they wanted their baby brother to take part in the experiment by being inside the wagon. The first wagon speed assessment run was tested by shoving Lewis off the side of a hill, which ended quickly when he and the wagon toppled over sideways within seconds. The next test run ended more tragically and was determined by tying one of their goats to the front of the wagon. Halfway through the goat’s sprint, Lewis flew out and the wagon tipped over and was drug all over the farm by the frantic and confused goat. Needless to say, Lewis’ wagon was no longer red.
12: Growing Up on the Farm | O.W. worked in the oil fields about ten miles outside of Oklahoma City. They raised a garden and all three of their boys, Charles David, Robert Lee, and Lewis Harold helped out on the farm. All the typical animals were raised on their 320 acre oil field farm southeast of Oklahoma City. They each had their own horse and Papa named his “Lindy” after Charles Lindbergh who made the first solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean on May 20-21, 1927. | The farm work primarily included bailing hay and herding cattle. The land belonged to the oil company, so fences were not permitted and the boys were in charge of herding the cattle. They owned about six horses and would herd cattle all throughout the day. Lewis always wanted to help out, but David and Bobby thought he was too young. However, they would occasionally allow him to ride bareback on a colt and hang on to its mane for dear life. This led Lewis to become a great rider, especially when he was allowed to use a saddle. Bobby started school when he was six years old and all three brothers attended oil field school from first through twelfth grade. Bobby's class started with sixty students enrolled and he graduated with twenty-four. The high drop out rate was common during this time because boys were permitted to work full time at age 16, which many opted to do. Papa understood the value of education and decided to complete high school and work extra hard during the summers to earn money. Papa has one very vivid memory of getting in trouble in grade school. One of the boys in his class was being awarded a pocket watch and the Superintendent walked into the classroom to give it to his classmate. Bob was intrigued so he jumped up from his chair and asked if he could see it. While today this “offense” would be regarded as a very minor disruption, Bob was sent to the cloakroom for a whipping because he did not have permission to speak or stand up from his seat. This must have left quite an impression because Papa did not get in trouble at school anymore. Later in life he became the man on the other side of the paddle, which students were fearful of, and the supervisor that teachers felt privileged and proud to work under. Lunches were always packed and brought to school. There was no cafeteria and the students all ate at their desks.
13: Bobby and his brothers bought their clothes at a factory in Kiowa, Oklahoma. Blue overalls were 59 cents and if they wanted to really dress up with striped overalls, the cost jumped to 69 cents. Shorts were sewn from sugar sacks in order to save money. In Papa’s youth, holes in your britches were earned by playing hard and working harder. Unfortunately today, holes are created in the factories and the more that are present actually increase the already inflated cost. | David left; Bobby right | Bobby, 2nd in from this row
14: In Junior High, Papa recalled a lesson on psychology. The teacher taught them how the mind controls the body and that basically you feel as good as you think you feel. Bobby and some of his buddies decided to test this theory during recess and told their friend from a different class, A.R. Washington, that “he didn’t look so good” and kept asking if he felt all right. By the time A.R. returned the class, he decided he was extremely ill and told the teacher he needed to go home before he got anyone else sick. Needless to say, the teacher’s theory and Papa’s persuasion skills were right on. | Work Hard Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.” Matthew 9:37 All hard work brings a profit, and mere talk leads only to poverty. Proverbs 14:23 | Junior High | Right: 11 years old while attending Oil Field Schools
15: Bobby’s earn-it-yourself attitude kicked in early on and at ages seven and eight he sold the magazines, Ladies Home Journal and The Country Gentleman, for a nickel or dime per issue. Ranging in color from hunter green to sporty navy, this Vitality brand shoe ad appeared in Ladies Home Journal in October 1937. --> | In Junior High when Bobby and David were ten and eleven, they completed a paper route each day and sold copies for two cents each. They loaded the magazines on the front and back of their horses and delivered the daily paper in the morning on their way to school, and the evening paper on the way home. At twelve years old, Bobby started bailing hay. He ran the buck-rake and David who was thirteen, ran the sulk-rake. The following summer when Papa was thirteen years old, he and David worked for the Pepsi Cola Bottling Company. They would walk three quarters of a mile and then take a bus to the city for five cents and from there, take another bus to downtown Oklahoma City. If the boys were lucky, they would find a ride from downtown to the Pepsi Cola bottling company. It was an hour commute but only cost them a nickel. With this job, Papa earned $15.00 a week and worked at the plant for eight hours a day. This was Monday through Friday all summer long. Papa was asked to return the following summer to work at the Pepsi plant and because he was such a good worker, his pay was bumped up to $18.00 a week. At sixteen, Papa began working in the oil fields pulling tubing and rods and working on wells all around Oklahoma City. He would continue this work for many summers and years to come. His older brother, David, became almost legendary in the oil business. He worked on oil fields in Venezuela, platforms in the North Sea, and on drilling ships all over the world including the West coast of Africa. Up until he was 85 and during his semi-retirement, David continued to play golf and supervise oil rigs throughout Texas. On June 12, 2012, David suffered a massive brain stem stroke and went Home peacefully in his sleep to be with our Heavenly Father.
16: Along with doing well academically all throughout high school, Papa was, for lack of a better term, quite the jock. He played tight end in football, third baseman in baseball, and center in basketball. He would have also run track if the school had offered the sport. His school, the Crooked Oak Roughnecks, had an outstanding football team and they were four- time Conference Champions. The Roughnecks lost only one game during the season, which was in the State Finals. The largest schools in Oklahoma at this time were Tonkawa and Fairview in western Oklahoma and Capital Hill and Central in the Oklahoma City area. The divisions were divided among classes A-D: Class A was the largest division and Crooked Oak was Class B. When Bobby was fifteen years old, World War II was occurring and he wanted to work for Capital Iron and Steel Company building roofs for airplane hangers. There was a slight problem though. At the time, you had to be at least 16 years old in order to work with steel and metal and Bobby was barely fifteen. When he applied, the owner asked him how old he was. Bobby confidently responded that he was “old enough to do a day's work.” He started the following week making 33 cents an hour. | Senior Year 1st Semester; 17 years | Senior Year 2nd Semester; 18 years | In 1947, Bob graduated from High School at age eighteen and started working on a rotary rig and drilling wells around the Edmond, Oklahoma, area and in Buoy, Texas. When summer ended, he put his focus towards continuing his education and playing college football. | High School
17: College Years | In August of 1947, Bob enrolled at Connors State College A&M (Agriculture and Mechanical), which was a satellite school of Oklahoma State University. During this time, taking twelve or more credit hours cost only 24 dollars. As a non-athlete, our future Meme paid thirty-six dollars for her room and board when she attended the following year. Papa played football at Connors and because of students returning from war, the average age on the team was 24 and the oldest player was 29 years old. Papa was 18 and right out of high school but because of his athletic and leadership ability, he was elected Captain of the team. Papa played tight end and his roommate from grade school, Albert Middaugh, was the quarterback. Later in life, Albert became a jet pilot and his claim that flying was safer than driving was unfortunately proven. At age 45, Albert died in a car accident on the way to work. Fortunately, Papa’s worst injury occurred during a Saturday scrimmage in Stillwater, Oklahoma. He sprinted out for a pass on the east side of the field house and was looking back towards the ball. A young boy came out of nowhere on his bike directly towards where Bob was sprinting. In the late 1940s, football players did not wear face masks, which was not helpful in this case. The collision swelled Papa’s eye completely shut, but the boy’s bike may have been in even worse condition. After the boy picked up his mangled bicycle, the angry coach warned him, “Get that bike out of here and never come back.” Later in life, Papa coached football and face masks became optional the year after he quit, and eventually mandatory. | 1st year playing at Connors 1947
18: Connors State Administration Building - 195s | 1st Year at Connors | Lettermen at Connors: David Sharp, halfback, bottom row & 3rd from right. Bob Sharp, tight end, bottom row, far right. | College Shop - 1948
19: Bob was a math and science major and both subjects came pretty easily to him. He would normally complete his homework assignments during class. When football season ended, he worked in oil and drilling fields running the rotary rig from 11 P.M. to 7 A.M. He would shower immediately after he finished working and head to class. One day after a long hard night of work, Papa fell asleep in class during a review session. After all the students left the room, Bob was sleeping soundly at his desk. His professor, also the Head of Education, made his way over to Papa’s desk. Dr. Hall woke him up, “Mr. Sharp, I know you are working extremely hard, hopefully these will help.” He handed Papa all of his own personal notes for the test the following day. | Oklahoma National Guard - 1948; bottom row, second from right
20: “The Best Decision I Ever Made" | Willie “Fern” Cole worked in the school cafeteria at Connors and gave the students their meal tickets. She recalls the football players being spoiled with steaks, chicken fried steak, massive amounts of potatoes, and basically all the food they could eat. Connors was a relatively small college and everyone knew who the football players were, especially Papa. There was a school get-together one evening and the students were all on the lookout for dates to the event. Fern decided that she did not want to go with any of the Army boys and that the one and only one she would consider going with was Bob Sharp. Papa’s feather light wingtip dancing shoes must have whisked Meme off her feet at the event because they both knew beyond a shadow of a doubt they had met the love of their life. Soon after, Bob and Fern were ‘going steady’. When school ended and summer break began, Bob drove out to Vian, Oklahoma, to visit Meme one time. While today a single visit over an entire summer may seem disappointing to a girl, Bob was working seven days a week on an oil rig and was lucky to get any break from work for the visit. Meme didn't mind. When it was time to return for classes and football at Connors in August, the coach had instituted a new rule that if athletes were married, they could not play. Bob found this rule ridiculous and decided to transfer back to Central State in Edmond because he knew he wanted to marry Fern before his last season. Being with his girl was far more important than the name on his football jersey. | Edmond Central State Football 4th Season | Standing next to her Daddy's car before they were married | Bob shot this at Fern's Daddy's house
21: On August 26, 1951, Willie Fern Cole officially changed her last name to Sharp in Fort Smith, Arkansas, at their preacher’s house. Those who witnessed the marriage were Meme’s oldest sister, Pauline, Pauline's husband, and Meme's brother, Wesley. After the wedding, the blissful couple drove to Vian, Oklahoma, to a reception at Meme’s parents' home which consisted of fried chicken and a homemade wedding cake. Pauline has always looked out for her baby sister and made her wedding dress. As anyone can see from the picture, the gorgeous gown fit Willie Fern almost as perfectly as the man standing next to her. | Bob and Fern rode with Pauline on the way from the wedding to the reception, but soon after, the newlyweds bought a light green 1949 Ford Club Coupe for $1,000 with 15k miles and made car payments around $50/month. | In front of Fern’s mother and father’s house in Vian, Oklahoma before their reception. | Bob graduated from Central State at Edmond in May of 1952 and received a letter that “he had been selected” to take part in the Korean War. (Central State, now the University of Central Oklahoma, has over 30,000 students. Papa’s mother attended school there and grandson, Drew Sharp, completed his Masters Degree at Central).
22: The greatest compliment I have ever received was Papa telling me that I reminded him of Meme. | Marriage & Military Life | Bob officially joined the Army in June of 1952 and was sent to Ft. Bliss in El Paso, Texas, for eight weeks of Basic Training. The picture to the right was during that time. Fern drove with a girlfriend from Oklahoma City to El Paso to visit Bob. After training, she moved to El Paso to be with him. Bob attended the Radar and Guided Missile School for nine months along with 220 other students. When the class was complete, a select few were chosen to stay and teach the next group of students. Because of Bob’s high scores and his math and science background, he was 1 of 11 out of 220 who were kept as an instructor in the school. The rest were deployed to Korea to fight in the war. At the school where Papa taught, there was a ten-foot high fence surrounding it and planes were carefully watched from 150 miles out. If they passed the 10-mile marker, they were shot down. | Air Force 2012 Married 2.18.2012 | Army 1952 Married 8.26.1951
23: Front porch while in Army in El Paso, Texas | Bob's Winter Army suit, Ft. Bliss, before church
24: Soon after they were married, Meme and Papa took a road trip to Colorado in matching shirts Pauline made them. Fifty-nine years later, they still match. | 1950 - Road Trip; 2009 - Family Cruise | Back left, Meme's father; Visting Pauline Picnic with Army friends White Sands, New Mexico | Meme described this time in El, Paso to me as some of the very best years of their life. The base had numerous other young couples going through the same experiences and they all enjoyed the hardships but even more so, the happiness and fun times spent together. They held barbecues, took trips to White Sands, New Mexico, and had numerous get-togethers.
25: Robert Michael Sharp | Papa was discharged a year later after teaching a full year at the Radar and Guided Missile School. On November 23rd, 1953, Fern gave birth to a baby boy who I am now proud to call my Dad. Robert Michael was born in a hospital called “Hotel Diem” in El Paso, Texas. The bill was $500 for the doctor and hospital. Meme vividly remembers her first born as being “white as snow and bald headed.” When they got to the nursery, Fern asked Bob if he could distinguish which baby was their boy. Since the Mexican babies all had about two inches of black hair on top of their head, Bob picked out his bald boy pretty quickly. Baby Mike was also missing a small piece of cartilage on his right ear, and they were relieved to find out he was not missing part of his brain too. | Pregnant in 1953 | 1953 | Bringing him home | 7 weeks | 7 months | 8 weeks | Proud Dad
26: Return to Oklahoma | In June of 1954, the Sharp family packed up and headed to Edmond, Oklahoma where Papa could renew his teaching certificate. After it was renewed, he taught math and science in Billings, Oklahoma. Along with teaching two subjects, Bob also coached football, baseball, girls and boys basketball, and drove the bus to almost every sporting event. Some high school games were as far as 100 miles away. His second year at Billings, he became the school principal and the coach. | A close family friend, Willie, who was an English teacher at the school, took this photo at the Sharp’s home in Billings. | Bob Sharp; Billings Basketball Coach
27: Mark Allen Sharp | Bob and Fern had their second baby boy, Mark Allen, on March 13, 1956. Meme was certain that Mark was going to be a girl and had all kinds of pretty pink dresses ready for him to wear. Fortunately for Mark, they had some leftover clothes Mike could pass along to his new baby brother. | After two years at Billings, Bob resigned and decided to take advantage of the GI Bill, which would pay for his Master’s degree in Edmond, Oklahoma with a focus in Administration and Guidance Counseling. His second teaching job in Jenks earned him $3000 a year and during the summer, he bailed hay for three months and earned $10,000. Meme recalls a time her young boys joined Bob while he was baling hay about fifteen miles outside of town. The boys always begged to go along with their dad while he was working. She was reluctant, because Bob was known to work 7-10 days straight if the baling was going well. He would bring clothes in a cardboard box and wash up in a nearby pond at the end of the day, then continue working at 4am the following morning. She finally agreed to let her sons join him, and Bob said he would have them back home that evening. However, the baling was going too well and Bob knew they would make a lot more money if he continued through the night instead of breaking. At age four and six, Mark and Mike slept in the truck the first night as their dad continued working with their Grandpa Cole into the following day. When they got hungry, Grandpa Cole, Meme's father, would drive a few miles to the store and bring back candy, cookies, and pop. The second night, the boys were exhausted and filthy, and Mike fell asleep in the truck. Mark crawled out and up into the tractor with Papa. He looked up at him and said, "Dad, you know what I want?" Papa responded, "Pop? Another candy bar?" Four-year-old Mark looked up with his dirt-covered face and said with complete certainty, "No. I want my good ole' bed." Less than an hour later, they saw headlights coming down the dirt road. After two days and nights and no cell phones to check in on her boys, Meme had come to their rescue. Few words were spoken, but Mark and Mike were taken directly home to a warm bath and their "good ole' beds."
28: In 1957, Bob Sharp was offered the position of Principal at Jenks Junior High School. He then started teaching math at the high school level the following year and was soon promoted to High School Principal. Bob Sharp served as Principal of Jenks High School for 19 years. | Move to Jenks, Oklahoma | I will never forget the stories my dad told while his father was Principal of Jenks High School. Students were petrified to be sent into the hallway after getting in trouble in fear that Mr. Sharp would possibly walk by while they were there. This meant an immediate, unquestionable spanking in his office. Mr. Sharp demanded a well-run school system as well as respect, and he got it. | Dressed up at Pep Rally
29: Voice of the Trojans | Mr. Sharp spent 35 years announcing high school football games for the Jenks Trojans. Five of those years, his boys would be on the field. When he started working as Principal, Jenks had a 0 win, 10 loss record. The next year, Red Rogers was hired as coach and with some "inspiration of the high school's new principal" took the same group of kids to a 7-3 record. What happened, says Sharp, is that the school and community got behind the kids and the athletic program and encouraged them to believe "they were supposed to win" at whatever they did. Bob Sharp stated, "That is why athletics is important, it's like the game of life. When you get knocked down, you get back up and try harder." Mr. Sharp also recognized the importance of academics. As director of secondary education, he also tackled a program of bringing college prep courses into high school. Subsequently, college bound students are already a whole semester ahead when they leave high school. Papa took great pride while his boys were playing. Once while announcing a game Papa embarrassed Mike after he made a good tackle. Papa's comment on the P.A. system was: "That was Fern's boy on the tackle."
30: This picture was taken in 1961 at the Sharp’s first home in Jenks, Oklahoma. At the time, the pink house on 1200 W. Main Street was one of the nicest in town. This picture is by the fireplace that Meme’s father, Grandpa Cole, built. | While he was principal at Jenks, Bob Sharp continued to bail hay during the summer and also started investing money in land. In 1968, he began developing land that he had invested in beginning with the subdivision Melody Lane. Fern's brother-in-law, Wesley Jarman, partnered with him to complete the project and it was a good introduction for his young boys to get a hands-on experience. Mike and Mark were 10 and 12 at the time and worked alongside their dad. They worked long, hard days laying waterlines, digging ditches, picking up bricks, building homes, building roads, and everything else that goes along with developing a neighborhood. Melody Lane ended up with six different phases of 50-80 lots each. This continued through the early 1980’s and the lots sold for three times the original price 18 months later.
31: Mike and Mark admired their dad and never wanted to come remotely close to disappointing him. Bob Sharp was, and is, a man of high expectations. Meme's father, Grandpa Cole, owned cattle with Papa on a farm in Bixby where he worked on a regular basis. One day, seven-year-old Mark was helping his dad herd calves who weighed anywhere from three to five hundred pounds. Mark was instructed to stay in one place disallowing any calves to get by him. When a few of them started charging at Mark, he made the split decision to dodge them instead of standing his ground as his dad instructed. The calves escaped requiring Papa to gather them all up again. Mark got a good chewing, but he was not hurt by his father's words. He was devastated for disappointing the man he loved, admired, and respected. Bob Sharp is simply that kind of man, to more people than he will ever know, who makes it literally painful to disappoint. | Michael
32: Family Vacations | The Sharp family took several family vacations to places such as New Orleans, El Paso, Las Vegas, and California. My dad's earliest remembrance of a vacation was White Sands and Carlsbad Caverns in El Paso. When Mike and Mark were around seven and nine years old, the family took a road trip to California with Uncle Wesley, Aunt Ruth, and their cousins, Randy and Tanya. They drove "twin cars," a blue and tan Buick and drove almost 800 miles all the way to Gallop, New Mexico, on the first day. Papa called their mechanic, Jay Henry, to let him know that he had done a good job on their tune up. They stopped in places all along the way such as the Grand Canyon, Painted Dessert, and Petrified Forest. When they arrived in California, they visited Meme and Ruth's Uncle Wilson in El Segundo. My dad remembers orange and lemon trees in his yard. The Sharps enjoyed Disney Land, Marine Land, and going to the beach. After stopping by the ocean, my dad also recalls stepping on a fish and part of it got stuck in the bottom of his shoe. After enduring the stench in the car for an extended period of time, they finally realized where the horrid smell was coming from and Mike's shoes were thoroughly washed before he was allowed back in the car. They headed north and one of my dad's most enjoyable memories of the trip was visiting Yosemite National Park and driving through the massive Redwood Forest. He will never forget the enormous tree they drove their car under. | Above: Papa & Mike at Grand Canyon Below: Mark, Tanya, Mike | Above: Mike, Papa, Meme, Mark Below: Grand Canyon, Mark, Papa, Mike | Above: Redwood tree Below: Mark & Mike on Redwood
33: Jenks "Lifers" Bob and Fern's boys attended Jenks Public schools from first grade through high school graduation. Having your father as your high school principal has advantages and disadvantages. Both Mike and Mark agreed they were not provided any handouts due to their father's position. They were always placed in the most difficult classes with the strictest teachers. They were held to a much higher standard than any other student. Punishments were twice as severe and teachers knew it. Mark recalls an English teacher stating, "I should send you to the office, but I am afraid you won't survive." Mike agreed, "I knew I couldn't get away with anything because my dad would make an example of me." The Sharp boys were both athletes and worked extra hard in practice and in games. When your dad is the announcer and the principal, they had to prove their playing time was earned, and they did. Mark's temper landed him on the bench a few times and thrown out of a basketball game after a well-deserved punch to his opponent's face. Papa sat his youngest son out the following two games, and Mark wrote the OSSAA an apology letter. He felt bad for putting Papa in an awkward position after he had worked on the OSSAA board for many years. While he would never promote fighting in school or on the athletic field, Papa would always encourage his sons to stand up for themselves. Any leader who demands excellence and structure will have people against them who despise discipline. While they were challenged in the classroom and athletically, Mike and Mark's least favorite part of having Mr. Sharp as their principal was hearing anything derogatory said about their dad. The misbehaving students making the remarks would probably thank Mr. Sharp later in life for instilling the discipline they were obviously lacking elsewhere. Mike graduated from Jenks High School in 1972 and Mark in 1974. It is certain they received the best high school education possible. They were challenged to become even better athletes and left high school with tough skin, a strong work ethic, and a greater admiration for their father. | Mark | Mike
34: Mike - Senior year, 1971 | Mark - Senior graduation, 1974 | Papa instilled in his sons the value of hard work and earning money. The work Mike and Mark completed with their father during the summers developing neighborhoods allowed them to earn enough to cover their college education and have money left over to invest. Both boys went off to college with cars they were able to purchase on their own. Mike drove a Buick Skylark and Mark an Oldsmobile Cutlus. | Below: Mike's Buick Skylark | Mark, Papa, Mike
35: Service Station | In addition to working on several subdivisions with their Dad, Mike and Mark opened a service station in September of 1978. The decision to build it was due to the lack of self-service stations in Jenks, and Papa owned a prime piece of real estate at 802 West Main Street. The Sharps named the gas station West Main Self-Service, and began with six pumps and two vending machines that offered soda and cigarettes. Through the years, West Main Self-Service became a full-service convenient store branded as Getty, Apco, Total, and finally Texaco. After opening the gas station, Mark and Mike decided to purchase their own transport truck in order to haul their own gasoline and sell it in bulk to other businesses. The grandkids enjoyed "The Station" for several years and we each remember bagging ice, mowing, trimming bushes, and my main job, cleaning out the car wash pit. Most of the grandchildren worked as cashiers during their high school years after school and on weekends. We all benefited from the free car washes and occasional pop and candy the employees allowed any of the Sharp kids to have. The service station remained in business until December 31, 2003, and now is the office location for Sharp Companies where Papa operates his finance company.
36: Flyboys | In addition to working hard and earning money, the three Sharp men also shared the love of flying. They each received their pilot’s license and flew a 1956 Cessna 182 that Papa bought for $9,000. Papa previously owned a Cessna 172 with Frank Herald that he flew in the 1960’s. Mike eventually bought the Cessna 182 while Mark purchased a Grumman Cheetah. Papa later bought a Piper Seneca Twin as an investment and sold it soon after, but only after Mike was able to fly it for about 30 hours and receive his twin-engine rating. Mike continues to enjoy flying his Piper Cubs, which are located in a hangar on family land near Beggs, Oklahoma. | 1956 Cessna 182 flown by Papa, Mark & Mike | Matt skydiving from 1953 Piper Super Cub | Mike's 1946 J-3; Aaron is current Air Force pilot | Mike in 1953 Piper Super Cub
37: Bethany Free Will Baptist Church | While family, stable finances, and good friends are important in this lifetime, Bob Sharp places his faith in God as precedence over all. Papa bases all of his decisions on the moral and ethical principles he believes in, which derive from the Bible and teachings from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The Sharp family are charter members of Bethany Free Will Baptist Church, which started in the summer of 1963. Bob and Fern met with friends each week in homes to pray for a more family-oriented church opportunity. Papa baled hay for a farmer who owned land with a small schoolhouse, and the farmer allowed them to hold services in the schoolhouse as long as they put all the furniture back as it had originally been placed. From the schoolhouse, they moved to a location at 71st and Memorial, which at the time was nothing but farmland. Bob and Fern frequently donated time and money to help Bethany during the difficult early years. When shopping centers began to be built near the 71st street location, Bethany recognized and seized the opportunity to sell and expand their church elsewhere. Papa supported and was actively involved in the sale of the 71st street location. In October of 1984, Bethany broke ground in Broken Arrow, where the current church exists with over 500 members. Bob and Fern are very respected and active members in the church. Before they were members at Bethany, Papa taught Sunday school at their church in Bixby. To this day, he teaches the co-ed senior adult Sunday school class every week. Meme taught the four-year old Sunday school class with her sister, Ruth, for forty-three years. For many years, Bethany held a Christmas program called The Living Christmas Tree. Our family attended every year and it did not really feel like Christmas without seeing the enormous tree with Meme, Aunt Ruth, and Justin's wife, Anna, singing from it. A highlight each year was the Santa Quartet that the pastor, Randy Wilson, participated in. My cousins and Meme and Papa's two oldest grandchildren were married at Bethany. Justin married Anna in 2003 and Brett married Kelly in 2009. Meme and Papa instilled in their children and grandchildren that attending church is a freedom we all must take advantage of. It is an act of obedience and opportunity to learn about and serve our Lord and Savior. Their faithfulness to God, each other, family, and friends is extraordinary and admirable.
39: For several years, Meme sang in Bethany's Christmas program, The Living Christmas Tree. Below, she is in the second row from the bottom, second from right.
40: Mark & Mike Get Married | Mark and Mary Hunt met while they were in high school and dated for four years. On November 3, 1973, Mary was crowned Jenks Homecoming Queen with her future husband as her escort. Mary was once terrified of Papa because he was "MR. SHARP," a very intimidating and respect-demanding figure. Mark and Mary were married on August 6, 1976, at The United Methodist Church in Jenks. After living in apartments, their first home was a duplex by the Sharp's gas station, which is now their office. They really thought they had made it big in their spacious, 800 square foot home!
41: Throughout his twenties, Mike was very independent and rarely dated. His focus was on skydiving, hunting, and building homes. This was until he met Mary Ann. Mary Ann met Papa before she met her future husband during a petrifying interview for a teaching position at Jenks Middle School. Even after she got the job, Bob Sharp remained a very intimidating man and Principal. Mike and Mary Ann met through Steve Eaton and after she saw a skydiving picture of Mike, it was love at first sight. They dated for eleven months before getting married on December 23, 1982, in Miami, Oklahoma. Naturally, Mike wore blue jeans and the wedding total was $42.50, "including the pictures." The newlyweds moved into a home at 810 East Beaver Street in Jenks that Mike built. Their starter living room furniture was intended for outdoor use, but they were very happy.
42: In 1976, Bob Sharp was promoted to Assistant Superintendent and served in the position for 16 years. In 1990, he continued his service to the school as Interim Superintendent until official retirement in January, 1992. | Assistant Superintendent Jenks Public Schools | Bob Sharp and Frank Herald
43: Retirement Party | Above: Lifelong friends & neighbors, Carl & Shirley Tate
44: A Self-Made Man of Many Hats... | Farm Boy Magazine Seller Delivered newspapers on horseback Pepsi Cola Bottling Company Capitol Iron & Steel Company Oil Rig Worker Soldier & Instructor in the Army School Teacher Land Investor Residential Construction Subdivision Developer Custom Hay Baling Football PA Announcer Coach: Football, Basketball, Baseball Utility Construction (backhoes, bulldozers, road graders) Junior High and High School Principal Church Board Member & Sunday School Teacher Assistant Superintendent Finance Company Specializing in Residential Construction Son. Brother. Husband. Friend. Dad. Papa.
45: Robert L. Sharp is the ideal example of the American dream. He grew up on a farm and worked any and every job he could, often for days and nights on end. He excelled in school, athletics, and continues to give one hundred percent in everything he does, gaining respect and admiration from everyone around him. When we were younger, his grandson, Drew, asked, "What does Papa do to make so much money?" Mark replied, "He loans money to other people and they pay him back with interest." Drew decided that was not a bad job and stated, "That's what I want to do when I grow up." While the subdivision, Churchill Park, was in its beginning stages, one Christmas Papa gave each grandchild a small percentage of his ownership in the subdivision. I was just beginning high school and didn't really know what to think of the piece of paper instead of the usual white envelope Papa hands out on Christmas Eve. He assured us, "It's not worth much right now, but it is a good deal." Throughout high school and college, my dad handled my finances. We worked long, hot summers helping dig footing, picking up brick, and anything they needed laborers for in Churchill. I did not really know how much I was getting "paid" since there were no checks, but I graduated with no student loans after sorority fees and traveling abroad twice, with nearly $60,000 remaining in my Churchill account. I realized Papa was right when he said we were getting a good deal. Several times I have heard my Papa referred to as "The Bank of Jenks." He will often loan money to those who would otherwise never be considered by a bank. Bob and Fern Sharp also faithfully support Bethany Church and many other missionary organizations. While they can afford just about any luxuries they want, Meme and Papa are the most humble and generous people I know. I would be shocked to pass a garage sale in Jenks and not see Meme there shopping.
46: Papa's Resume at Age 57
48: Sharp Siblings
49: Lewis, Shirley, David, Jo, Bob, Fern
52: Holidays | Some of my happiest memories have been spent at Meme and Papa’s house. I will never forget racing my little brother across backyards to their house in order to take full advantage of cable television and Saturday morning cartoons. We have spent nearly every holiday at Meme and Papa’s house. Birthdays, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas take place at Meme’s enjoying her famous drink, “red stuff,” and the delicious meals Papa always claims to have whipped up himself. Meme simply smiles and lets him take the credit. Their first house on 4th Street had the ideal living room seemingly designed for anxious grandchildren to make a perfect semi-circle around the Christmas tree. We sat in overwhelming anticipation for Meme to read our name off a gift and hand it to Papa to send soaring across the living room floor. Meme’s perfect wrapping job was destroyed the instant each grandkid laid hands on the gift. Once all the presents are opened, Papa hands out his envelopes, which he proudly claims have never once been returned. Bingo followed soon after and even more gifts were awarded to the winner by random choosing. Brett usually ended up with the frilly nightgowns that I would trade him for my pajama pants. After all the presents were opened, we returned to the kitchen to devour Meme’s desserts and leftovers, something I will spend a lifetime trying to replicate. Thanksgiving is only a few weeks prior, and I am surprised any of us are able to eat by the time Christmas rolls around. The kitchen island is always packed full of every meat and delectable side dish imaginable, and of course desserts galore. The boys were sent to the “reject” table until they married and could the join the grown-ups in the dining room. The infamous wooden Thanksgiving turkey with 20-year-old suckers is sitting smack-dab in the middle of the table as the perfect conversation piece. Another benefit of the kiddie table is that Meme usually put two jugs of red stuff there. Easter was just as exciting and their lush backyard full of trees, flowers, and shrubs made for the ideal egg hunt location. The Sharp grandkids were definitely all born with a competitive gene and as the only girl, I believe the annual egg hunts prepared me for sprinting out of blocks in middle and high school track. Once the start was signaled, you would think we were running from grizzly bears as we frantically searched for the eggs. A couple of them always contained money, but how wonderful to look back on the days when candy was more valuable than a ten-dollar bill.
53: Above: Christmas 1986; Curt was born 1 week later
54: Retirement | Anyone would be happy to see their grandparents enjoy retirement as much as Meme and Papa. They have traveled all over the world together including Australia and numerous Alaskan and Caribbean cruises. Papa has also traveled a few times to Canada for fishing trips. One of their Alaskan cruises unfortunately occurred on September 11, 2001, and when their ship docked, no airlines were flying after the tragic event in New York City. Meme and Papa ended up taking a Greyhound bus all the way home, which took several days but they viewed it as an adventure, even if it is one they would prefer not to repeat. As recently as this year (2012), Meme and Papa took one of several trips to Branson, Missouri, with a large group to see various shows. On another bus trip in 2009, Meme and Papa traveled all throughout Colorado and one place they stopped was Denver. I was thrilled to meet up with them and while it was only a ten-minute drive to their hotel, after we went out to eat Papa slipped me a hundred dollar bill to cover my “gas money.” Papa has always looked for opportunities to be generous to his grandkids and after learning the meaning of a dollar and hard work from him, we could not be any more grateful. Several times that I have called my grandparents, they are in the middle of a dominoes game with friends or at a Jenks Football game. I could not be happier to hear them say they will need to call me back. They understand the meaning of enjoying life. It reminds me of a quote my dad wrote in a letter to me the day I was born: "Enjoy life, how can we bring joy to God if we aren't happy?" Meme and Papa live within a couple miles of both of their sons. Mark's children, Justin, Brett, and Drew, have stayed close to home and are fortunate to see Meme and Papa on a regular basis. Justin and Brett are both married and Meme and Papa are often able to enjoy the company of their great-grandchildren, Riley, Kaylee, and the newest addition, Braxton. Matt currently works as a drilling superintendent for Exxon in the Northwest Territory in Canada, but has a house and airplane hangar with my dad in Beggs, which is twenty minutes from Jenks. Curt and his wife, Kristin, are in school in Wisconsin preparing to be missionaries potentially in Papua New Guinea or Indonesia. Aaron and I are moving to Japan for the Air Force next month. Regardless of where any of us may be, "home" will always be Jenks, America, and Meme and Papa are the reason. Each of us wholeheartedly enjoy their company and can not ever get enough of Meme’s cooking or Papa’s stories.
56: Robert L. Sharp Health & Fitness Center "A Sharp Facility" | “I didn’t really know what was going on; I knew that we had voted on a bond issue to build this building. The Superintendent came to me regarding the name after it was well started. I consider it a privilege and a distinct honor that they saw fit to name this building after me.” Bob Sharp “I certainly believe Mr. Sharp is very worthy of receiving the honor of having a building named after him. He has left a legacy here. He, along with Mr. Frank Herald, laid the foundation for Jenks to have the success that we have had.” Tony Dillingham, Jenks Athletic Director “He had high goals he set for himself and for the people who worked for him, as well as the students. I feel like the standards that were set by Mr. Sharp have made Jenks High School what it is today. He was always expecting the most out of everyone. He is a 100% person.” Tommy Burns, Jenks Assistant Athletic Director In 2006, Jenks Public Schools’ highly successful sports program decided they needed an upgrade from their previous training facilities to a state-of-the-art training space. Crafton Tull designed a $5 million dollar, three-story building with a fitness training area, complete with cardiovascular, strength and conditioning equipment, as well as more spacious locker rooms. The 36,000 square foot Robert L. Sharp Health & Fitness Center was built at the north end of the Jenks High School football stadium, providing south-facing balconies that overlook the football field. With 152 state championships since 1978, Jenks needed a place to display a winning heritage. The third floor of the center is dedicated to a Hall of Fame and also serves as a home for a large conference room and coaches’ offices. | The Sharp Center has a rehabilitation room with a hydrotherapy pool and an underwater treadmill, and also houses a physical therapy clinic run by a local hospital. After a back procedure, Papa’s doctor suggested he use the facility at Jenks High School during his rehabilitation. The doctor asked several times if Papa knew how to get to the building and if he was familiar with the area. Papa responded that he knew how to get there, but the doctor asked a final time if he needed to write down directions. Finally, Meme chimed in, “He knows exactly how to get there, the building is named after him!”
59: Sharp Men
60: There are a few questions Papa has asked me throughout my growing up that I love to recall. In fifth grade, I decided to show up my big brother once and for all. I grew taller than him and stayed that way for about a year and a half. With Matt’s well-known pride, Papa thrived on this opportunity. Every time we would visit their house, Papa would ask me how many little brothers I had, loud enough for Matt to hear. For a year and a half I could happily reply, “Two!” In sixth grade, Papa gave me a gift that I will be forever grateful for. As a “snaggle-toothed” fifth grader, I was not quite living up to his “best looking granddaughter” claim and I recall him always asking how my teeth were doing. Finally, in sixth grade and after enough teeth had been pulled, Papa paid for braces that tormented my mouth for two years. After looking back at before pictures, I would not take a single second of the agony back. In high school, I had the opportunity to run varsity track from 9th through 12th grade. Along with my parents who attended every meet possible, Papa was my biggest fan. He was so proud of the fact that I ran relay races and would often ask me, “What color are the rest of the girls on your relay team?” He loved that I was by far, the palest of them all. After I moved to Denver, Papa loved that I was enjoying my life in Colorado and doing well in my job. With our shared love of sports, he would always ask which intramurals I was playing and how many sales records I had broken. Today we often discuss the new places I am seeing that the constant moving military life includes. He loves hearing about Aaron's flying accomplishments and is just as proud of my husband as I am. When I was twelve years old, my best friend’s uncle, Jeff Erwin, told me that I will never fully understand the impact my grandfather has had on this town, and the people who worked with and for him. He was right. | From your "Best Lookin' Granddaughter"... | Papa, This was complete joy for me to put together, not only because I was able to learn more about you, but because I am able to appreciate more than ever where I come from. At the time it, was my least favorite activity, but now some of my greatest childhood memories include tossing bricks into the backhoe with my brothers and cousins in 104 degree weather while you drove it. We grew up with parents who were tougher and expected more out of us than any of our peers. We have you and Meme to thank for the high expectations and work ethic you instilled in your sons, which we and our children will benefit from for the rest of our lives. Thank you for allowing me to wear the diamond you bought Meme in my wedding ring every day of my life. It is a constant reminder of the meaning of true love, and that the promise you make on your wedding day is eternal. A better example of love, respect, and commitment in a marriage does not exist. The only frustrations I had writing this were knowing the parts of your fascinating life that were not included. You have so many interesting stories, have held countless important positions, contributed to numerous organizations, and impacted more lives than can ever be recorded. Nothing could justifiably capture the sweat, blood, and love you have encountered in this lifetime thus far. Meme and Papa, thank you for being such an amazing example of God's love. I love you always, Susie | December, 2012
63: We love you, Meme and Papa.
64: Robert Michael Sharp 11.23.1953 | Mary Ann Balzer Sharp 9.30.1950 | Robert Lee Sharp 2.6.1929 | Aaron Michael Eshkenazi 5.2.1988 | Susan Sharp Eshkenazi 8.15.1985 | Curt Edward Sharp 12.31.1986 | Hayley Mitchell Lee 12.2.1977 | William Schuyler Lee 8.25.1975 | Kristin Hisey Sharp 7.7.1984 | Elise Wagoner- Lee Lee 8.28.2002 | Mary Alexandra Lee 7.10.2007 | William Tate Lee 5.14.2009 | Matt Lee Sharp 2.26.1984
65: Willie Fern Cole 9.8.1931 | Mark Allen Sharp 3.13.1956 | Mary Hunt Sharp 7.12.1956 | Justin Ryan Sharp 1.16.1981 | Brett Cole Sharp 11.20.1982 | Andrew Mark Sharp 4.29.1985 | Anna Beam Sharp 9.23.1982 | Kelly Metcalf Sharp 1.24.1983 | Riley Paige Sharp 12.30.2007 | Kaylee Raegan Sharp 3.28.2011 | Braxton Clay Sharp 2.19.2012 | All because two people fell in | December 2012 | Braxton & Uncle Drew