Late HCC educator best remembered as 'Larry'

'That was Larry,' many people said as they gave remembrances during a gathering at the school

February 23, 2011|By KATE S. ALEXANDER |
  • Jim Brown, former Hagerstown Community College basketball coach, was one of many who paid tribute to the late Laurence "Larry" Sharpe Wednesday night at HCC.
By Joe Crocetta, Staff Photographer

Historian. Colleague. Father. Teacher. Friend. Mensch.

Many words were used Wednesday night to describe the late Laurence Sharpe, but perhaps the word used most often was "Larry."

"That was Larry," many people said as they remembered  Sharpe during a celebration in his memory held at Hagerstown Community College near Hagerstown.

A simple phrase, it was repeated throughout the evening when no other words or comparison would do.

In short, Larry was like no other.

Sharpe, 88, of Smithsburg, passed away on Feb. 4, just days short of his 89th birthday.

Larry touched many lives, as evidenced by the 200 people who packed the lobby of HCC's Athletic Recreation and Community Center to celebrate his life and show their love to his surviving wife, Blanche Sharpe, and his family.

"Larry's family and his community and his faith and his country were so important to him ... every thread in the fabric that he was, was woven with integrity and honor," said Kathleen Hall, a former student and friend of Larry's.

 "He had that spark in his eye, you knew he had not only that little bit of mischievousness in him, but he had the ability to make you think and to make you question," she said.

"He rubbed elbows with a lot of famous and important people but he never lost sight of who he was, and what was important to his life," said former colleague Tom Clemens, a history professor at HCC.

"He dedicated himself to teaching, to challenging and improving the minds of his students and, in his 21 years at HCC, he left a considerable imprint on his students, on our collective institutional memories and the history of the institution, in general."

"To teach is to touch a life forever," said his former student, Kate Coleman, quoting a T-shirt. "I should be able to come up with something original, something a little less trite ... sorry," she said. "It's true."

"Grandpa was a very special person, a man of principle," said his grandson, Eran Sharpe. "He was basically my big buddy."

"Larry always parted by saying, 'You're a good man,'" said Jim Brown, a former colleague of Larry's from HCC. "And tonight I say to you that Larry was the best of all good men."  

"Larry always told my kids that I saved his life, but he gave me much more credit than I deserved," said his cardiologist, Dr. Jeff Jones. "Looking back, I think I got the better end of the deal; my life was abundantly enriched by knowing Larry and by knowing you Blanche."

Of all that was said in memory of Larry, it was the words of his wife that brought everyone to their feet and many to tears.

"As most of you know, Larry led a life of service, service to his county and service to his fellow man.  He patterned his life on his favorite saying, 'Walk humbly with your god and be a friend to man,'" Blanche Sharpe said. "For more than 46 years, Larry filled my life, filled it with love, hope and affection, and with his contagious enthusiasm for life.

"Larry was a man who by his very nature, wanted to help and do good wherever he could. That he truly did," she said.

 "To his friends he gave freely of his affection, his respect and sincerity. My family joins in telling all of you how much your being here means to us."

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