Elizabeth Sharp

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Elizabeth Edwards Sharp, 95, passed away on Sept. 27, 2012 after a brief illness in Las Cruces, N.M. Her passing was gentle and her last days were supported by family and friends. We are deeply grateful for the help and love of her friends. Her love of reading and her tenacious optimism were an inspiration to all who knew her. Born in 1916 to Edward and Lola Edwards of Minerva, Texas, she grew up on a farm in the hill country. Her mother's long illness forced her to raise her younger siblings until the death of her mother in 1934. In 1936, she struck out west to New Mexico Teachers College (now WNMU) in Silver City. Mentored by Nanette Ashby and Pauline Glaser, she earned an associate degree and began teaching in Hurley, N.M. There the principal introduced her to his young brother-in-law, James Sharp. They fell in love, and he proposed marriage on a picnic on Dec. 7, 1941. They returned to town to find that their life together would not begin as they planned. They married in April and he left for Army training in the Seattle area. She followed, working for a time as a "Rosy, the Riveter" in the Boeing plant there. When he left for France, she returned to New Mexico, finding work in Mosquero, N.M. as one of New Mexico's first female county extension agents. After the war ended, they found work teaching in Rincon, N.M. When their first baby came along, they needed more money, so Jimmie took a job as principal of Mesilla Elementary school and they moved to Las Cruces. After their second son was born, Elizabeth stayed home to raise the boys. When they entered junior high, her love of teaching reasserted itself. She returned to WNMU for her BA, so she could teach at Mesilla Park Elementary school. She discovered a talent for teaching reading that took the family to the University of Arizona for 3 summers to earn a Master's degree in reading education. She returned as a reading specialist, teaching at many local schools over the next 25 years. During that time, she developed the "Sharp Start" reading education method, guiding many pupils to a love of reading. She taught until she was 78, but by then Jimmie's long illness with ALS became too demanding. She retired to nurse him until his death in 2004. Since then she stayed busy with her home, family, and church life at St. Paul's Methodist church. She loved arranging flowers – often donating arrangements to local nursing homes. She was a snappy dresser who loved bright colors and she insisted on maintaining her make-up in her hospital bed. She is survived by sons; Cleveland and Harold, daughters-in-law, Jan Bandrofchak and Teri Sharp, grandchildren; Andy and Katie, brother, Harry Edwards, sister-in-law, Jean Edwards, and nieces; Lola Balestra and Karen Fields. A memorial service will be held at her home in February, when her beloved daffodils bloom. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to St. Paul's Methodist church, the ALS Society, or United Way. To sign the guest book log on to www.lapaz-grahams.com.
Published in Las Cruces Sun-News on Sept. 30, 2012
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