"To preserve the reputation of the Fraternity unsullied must be your constant care."

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Indiana PGM William T. Sharp Passes Away

Indiana Past Grand Master William T. Sharp, Sr. passed to the Grand Lodge Above on Saturday, June 20th. Calling will be Thursday, June 25, from 4 p.m. - 8 p.m. at Flanner and Buchanan Mortuary, 1305 Broad Ripple Ave., Indianapolis. The Masonic Service will follow at 8:00 p.m. The funeral service will be on Friday, June 26, at 10:00 a.m. at the mortuary.

Judge Sharp was Grand Master in Indiana in 1988-89.

From the obituary in the Indianapolis Star:

Judge William T. Sharp 88, Indianapolis, passed away June 20, surrounded by his loving family. Born December 27, 1920, to Charles and Emma (Furry) Sharp, in Cumberland IN, he was raised on farms in the Cumberland, New Palestine, and Oaklandon areas. He graduated from Warren Central High School in 1939 and married his high school sweetheart, Betty Jane Bridgins on July 3, 1941. During WWII he served in the Coast Guard on Long Island, New York and on a troop transport ship to Italy. Following military service, he graduated from Butler University and Indiana University School of Law, then began his private practice while also serving as Marion County Deputy Prosecutor. Although Judge Sharp was a teetotaler, former Indiana Governor Welsh appointed him to serve on the Indiana Alcoholic Beverage Commission. During his distinguished career, he received the Chamber of Commerce Good Government Award in 1966; was presented Sagamore of the Wabash awards by former Indiana governors Handley, Welsh, Branigin, Whitcomb, Bowen and Orr; the Distinguished Hoosier Award from Governor Bayh; as well as an Honorary Kentucky Colonel commission from then Governor Patton. He was the Republican nominee for Mayor of Indianapolis in 1958, and the runner-up Republican candidate for Governor of Indiana in 1972. He became Judge of Marion County Municipal Court #4 in 1962, and after redesigning the court system, became the first Presiding Judge. He was elected Circuit Court Judge of Owen County, serving from 1970-1982. After retiring in 1982, he served as president or chairman of many boards and foundations, including The Indiana Masonic Home Foundation; Lilly Foundation Eisenhower Scholarship, Retired Indiana Public Employees Association, Lions Club and many charitable organizations. He served as Grand Master of the Grand Lodge Free and Accepted Masons of the State of Indiana from 1988-89, and was active in many of the affiliated organizations, including the Scottish Rite, Murat Shrine, National Sojourners, and Red Cross of Constantine. He was honored to receive the Scottish Rite 33rd degree and the Caleb B. Smith Award for his years of distinguished service to the Masonic order. Throughout his life, education remained a high priority. Even after retiring, he earned a Masters degree and a Doctorate.

WBro. Jim Dillman told this story about MWB Sharp on Hiram's Forum:

The Grand Architect works in mysterious ways. MWB Sharp was in attendance at the rededication of Indiana Freemasons' Hall just a week-and-a-half ago. I had communicated with his son, Bill, prior to the date regarding arrangements for his dad and mom who were both in wheelchairs, but very excited about attending the rededication. I know that many of the brethren in attendance were thrilled that the Sharps had made the effort to attend in spite of their very frail health. While refreshments were being served in the dining room, I watched a steady stream of brethren make their way to the Sharp's table to greet them. I made a point to go over and introduce myself to thank them for coming. We spent several minutes chatting about Freemasonry and MWB Sharp's time as a judge. I found both of them to be delightful people and they told me how much they had enjoyed the day. I am so happy that I took the time to visit with them.

For those that aren't aware of it, MWB Sharp was the Republican candidate for mayor of Indianapolis in 1960, an election that he ultimately lost. MWB John Grein, who served as Deputy Grand Master under MWB Sharp told me about an article written after the election in the Indianapolis Times by a well-known reporter whose name escapes me at the moment. The reporter wrote that MWB Sharp's biggest problem is "that he is too honest." What better epitaph could one ask for? Rest in peace, MWB Sharp. You did us proud.

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