He said if he had it to do all over again, he would choose the same profession.
It’s because of this kind of passion and dedication to his work that Roger Sharp is being honored for serving 50 years as a licensed funeral director.
He will be awarded for that lifetime achievement at the Michigan Funeral Home Directors Association Convention in Mt. Pleasant on Wednesday, April 18.
Speaking from his home in Naples, Florida last week, Sharp said he actually began his career in the funeral home business in 1962. “I washed cars for Bowles Funeral Home in Linden,” he said.
After that Sharp served in the U.S. Army and graduated from college. “I got my funeral director license in 1968 and bought my first funeral home in Swartz Creek in 1970,” he said.
Today, with the help of his family and nearly 50 employees, about half of whom work part time and the other half full time, Sharp operates four successful funeral homes in Genesee County, including Fenton.
Sharp can’t say enough about his family and how much their dedication and contributions mean to him.
“My kids are a very big part of my life,” he said. “All of them treat the business as if it were their own, including my son-in-law Mike Scully, who has been working with me for 35 years.”
Over the past 50 years, Sharp said the biggest change in the funeral home business is the availability of professional help.
“Death takes no holiday,” he said. This is not a part-time effort. Help for the families of the deceased must be available days, nights and weekends.
“All of my children are licensed funeral directors,” he said. They are: Jennifer Sharp Scully, Stephanie Sharp Foster and Roger (RJ) Sharp II.
“We have 10 licensed directors on staff. We have been doing about 1,200 funerals a year,” he said.
Sharp said as soon as his kids could walk, they started helping. “It’s been good for my family and it’s been good for me,” he said.
At 74 years young, Sharp said he still meets with families. And even though he takes some time in Florida during the winters, he maintains an office there and still arranges funerals for hometown friends, including transportation when needed.
“While in Florida I’ve made four funeral arrangements in Genesee County and had the deceased transferred back to Michigan,” he said.
But Sharp Funeral Homes offer much more than just funeral services. They offer assistance to veterans, UAW members, have grief support resources and help people with prepaid funeral services, Social Security, Medicare, insurance and other tasks that can be daunting for people during their time of grief. The Sharp family also gives back to the community in a variety of ways.
Sharp said humbly that he has been fortunate with his successes. “I’ve received a number of awards, awards that I probably didn’t deserve,” he said.
Will his grandchildren carry on with the Sharp Funeral Home business? Sharp laughed and said, “Well, the jury is still out on that one. My oldest grandchild is 16 and he’ll be doing some part-time work this summer.”
Welcome to the discussion.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.