Donald Sharpe, 85, died peacefully December 29, at home in Sandy Hook. At his side were Jane, his wife of 52 years; son, Marcus, of Brookfield; and daughter, Kim, and her husband, Dave Mead, of Newtown and Bowersville, Ga. He was born on October 17, 1933, in Newton Highlands, Mass., to Dr L. Edward Villiaume, Jr, and Lula F. Sharpe.
In addition to his wife and children, he leaves his beloved grandchildren, Jackson Donald Sharpe and Ryan Louis Sharpe of Brookfield; step-grandchildren, Amanda and Daniel Mead of Bowersville, Ga.; sister, Lynne Fay of Otis, Mass.; step-sister, Erma Lee of Aurora, Colo.; two cousins; nine nieces and nephews, their spouses, and children.
In 1965, Mr Sharpe met his wife in the newsroom of The New Haven Register and Journal-Courier when he was city editor of the Journal-Courier. They were married in 1966. A few years later, he became managing editor, then editor of the Journal-Courier, and ultimately editor of both The New Haven Register and Journal-Courier. He later became vice president of the parent corporation.
Before joining the New Haven newspapers, he worked at the New York Daily News, was sports editor of The News-Times in Danbury, a section editor for New Milford Times, and a reporter for Jacksonville Daily News. After 26 years at the New Haven newspapers, Mr Sharpe joined The Connecticut Post in Bridgeport, where he spent nearly two decades doing the thing he liked most: editing copy, particularly page one.
Mr Sharpe was a sergeant in the US Marine Corps during the Korean War and spent three years as a US Marine reporter and photographer. Before his military service, he attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, majoring in metallurgy.
During his years in the news business, Mr Sharpe was president of the Connecticut Associated Press and a board member of the New England AP News Executives and the UPI New England Advisory Board. He was a former vice president of the New England Society of Newspaper Editors and committee member of the American Society of Newspaper Editors. He helped lead an international exchange program between daily newspaper editors in New England and government-sponsored editors from Russia. He also hosted a Russia editor here in Connecticut. In addition to his Russian program, Mr Sharpe visited countries in Europe, Asia, Central America, and the Caribbean, mostly on vacations.
An avid do-it-yourselfer, Mr Sharpe literally built the first home he and his wife moved into, a log cabin on Lake Zoar. He also learned to do electrical and plumbing work, as needed. In 1989, he and his wife built their second log home, this time with contractor help — again on the lake. In their retirement years, he joined his wife, Jane, in operating a log home dealership. Twice in the last 15 years, they were the top salespeople in the nation for the parent company Ward Cedar Log Homes.
A resident of Newtown since 1955, Mr Sharpe was an early founder of the Riverside on Lake Zoar Association. Most recently, he served as chairman of Newtown Economic Development Commission and on the board of the Newtown Chamber of Commerce. He and his wife are longtime supporters of Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo.
Mr Sharpe was an only child and married a woman with a large, complicated family. He became a family patriarch and counsel. Ultimately, however, the joys of his life were his wife, children, and grandchildren. He was particularly pleased that his name will be carried into more generations. Mr Sharpe was an avid newsman, a committed community volunteer, and a devoted family man. He will be deeply missed by all who knew him.
A celebration of his life will be Saturday, January 12, at 11 am, at Newtown United Methodist Church, 92 Church Hill Road, Sandy Hook. Burial will be private.
Friends may consider a gift in his memory to The Amur Tiger Habitat, Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo, 1875 Noble Avenue, Bridgeport CT 06610.
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