Former Ketchikan and Juneau resident Sharon Sarah Sharpe Scott died Aug. 4, 2009, in Seattle. She was 76.
Born Jan. 2, 1933, in Ketchikan, to Walter Perry and Mary McKenzie Sharpe, of Juneau, she was the first granddaughter of Walter Best and Sara O'Connor Sharpe, of Nome and Ketchikan. She was the first baby born in Alaska that year.
In 1935, the Sharpe family moved to Juneau where she attended school at Saint Ann's. She came to Seattle for high school, graduating from Holy Angels in Ballard. She received a degree in elementary education from Seattle University.
For nearly three decades, she worked as a teacher, distinguishing herself as a reading specialist and advocate of early learning disabilities. She first taught in Washington, Oregon and New Mexico, but her most cherished memories came later, when she taught students in the Northwest Artic School District in Nororvic and Kotzebue.
A pioneer of differentiated learning environments, she was one of the first teachers to develop inclusion models common in today's schools for special needs students. She also worked with students as a cheerleading coach, yearbook advisor and choir director.
Her Erma Bombeck-esque sense of humor and political activism served her well as an advocate for the rights of teachers as a site representative, grievance chairman and union president. She refused an offer for a bonus to take an early retirement until the school district offered matching retirement bonuses to all her fellow retirees. Eventually, the school district granted her request.
In her retirement, she spent countless hours researching her family tree, collecting birth, marriage and death certificates and traveling cross-country with the dual intention of capturing a picture of a headstone and leaving behind flowers to honor those who had paved the way. She put all of these findings in a book, titled "Branches, Roots and Twigs 1342-1995," for future generations.
In the final days of her life, she reminisced with her family about the "great outdoors" in Alaska and of her general love of adventure. She took great pride in her Alaska and Irish heritage.
"Sharon leaves a legacy of humor, independence, a strong work ethic and a love of education, reading, music and a commitment to the traditions that hold a family together through the toughest of times," her family said. "This was evident as she lay dying, where all of her children, their spouses, grandchildren and her sister surrounded her bedside."
She is survived by her seven children and their spouses, Jerry, Mary and Bob, Chris and Georgia, Mike and Lydia, Theresa and Mark, Tim and Lajarle, and Pete and Sheril; 12 grandchildren, who she affectionately referred to as "the Dozen Cousins," Sara, Tom, Tiffany, Walter, Chris, Delaney, Cade, Shelby, Erin, Caitlin, Courtney and Ashley; and sister, Becky Sharpe Janecke and her family.
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