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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Melvin G. Sharpe

A lifetime resident of Peshtigo, Melvin G. Sharpe, 90, passed away unexpectedly, late Thursday evening, March 6 at the home of his daughter and son-in-law.

Born Aug. 21, 1923, at the family home in Peshtigo, he attended Peshtigo Grade School, Roosevelt School in the Town of Grover and graduated from Peshtigo High School in 1941.

He was the voice of reason, common sense, was always fair and looked for a compromise whenever possible. That being said, he was a man of strong conviction.

He started his work career at a young age, taking his wagon into town and selling the beer his father made in an upstairs still to local establishments.  He did the same with the vegetables from his mother’s garden and would reward himself with a 5 cent twinkie. He took his responsibilities seriously, and like mom, often worked two or three jobs to support our large family.  He co-owned and operated, with his brother Bud, “Sharpe’s Bar”, in Peshtigo. He worked nights at the bar and days supervising the Water and Sewer Department. He was later named Director of Public Works for the City of Peshtigo. He was the 5th person in the state licensed as a Certified Sewage Treatment Plant Operator. For two years he established a successful insurance sales business for Prudential, a position he held until he was named City Clerk/Treasurer for the City of Peshtigo. During his time as City Clerk he might have been overheard saying, “I’m going to the bank.” Only Shirley and Betty knew “the bank” meant the bank of a good trout fishing creek.  He was especially proud of the work he did for the City of Peshtigo and in retirement, his work as a Marinette County Supervisor. He was currently a member and former vice-chairman of the Highway Committee. He looked forward to and enjoyed traveling through the county to assess the county roads. He also served on the Finance, Personnel and Library committees during his tenure on the Board and had recently filed his papers for another two-year term.

He was a veteran of World War II (1943-1945) serving in the North African and European Campaigns (Poe Valley). He participated in the invasions of Sicily and Italy and spoke modestly of the work he did for his country. All through his life he would tell us that he was a “certified Army Jeep driver” and could handle anything the road threw his way. He was an avid outdoorsman and enjoyed deer hunting, bird hunting and fishing. When he could no longer actively hunt or fish, he honed his appreciation of wildlife by observing nature from the house or car, especially on his road trips “up North”.

He was a voracious reader, especially Westerns and was almost never without a book. He was well known at the used book stores in the area and they gladly put their “good” westerns aside for him. He read the Press Gazette and Eagle Herald daily and waited in anticipation for the Peshtigo Times every Thursday. The daily crosswords and jumble kept him “mentally sharp”. It’s amazing to think he started out reading on a chalkboard and learned to use an IPad before his death.

He was a natural story teller and any conversation could bring to light a childhood memory, an event from the war years, or pranks he had gotten away with through the years. We never tired of hearing them and often told him, “That’s going in the book!

The couple loved to travel and with the generosity of Michael and Patty, they traveled the world. They spent many winters in California when Michael and Patrick lived there, but he never forgot his roots. He was a lifelong fan of the Peshtigo Bulldogs, Packers and Brewers. Above all, time spent with his family was what he treasured most.

A member of American Legion Carlson-Alguire-Neuman Post #213 and the VFW Post #8813, both of Peshtigo, he also was a member of the Tri County Masonic Daylight Lodge #218, a 50 year+ member of the Peshtigo Lions Club and a past member of the Wisconsin City Clerk/Treasurer Association.

He is survived by his children and their spouses, Jann (Chuck Rettke) Sharpe, of Oconto, Susan Sharpe, of Chippewa Falls, Patrick (Susan) Sharpe, of Burlington, Jeffrey Sharpe, of Oshkosh, Dr. Tim (Lori) Sharpe, of Holman and David (Lisa) Sharpe, of Fontana; a daughter-in-law, Patty Sharpe, of Fountain Valley, Ca.; 15 grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; a sister, Carol Eigner, of Pewaukee; three sisters-in-law, Helen Sharpe, Oconto Falls, Dorothy Sharpe, Waterford and Marie Buckner, Tennessee and many nieces, nephews and other relatives and friends.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Laureen on March 7, 2012; his parents; a son, Michael Jon Sharpe; a sister and brother-in-law, Evelyn and Curly Buckner and two brothers, Rellis (Bud) and Robert (Sonny) Sharpe.

Relatives and friends called at Berth and Rosenthal Funeral Home from 2 p.m. until the time of a funeral service at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, March 10. Burial will take place at Riverside Cemetery in the spring. A memorial fund has been established in his name for securing defibrillators for the community. He was a wonderful man and it was a blessing to have him in our lives.


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