Fenton Freedom Festival Names Roger Sharp as Grand Marshal
Reception takes place at The Fenton Hotel Tavern and Grille.
Roger Sharp, this year's Fenton Freedom Festival Grand Marshal, was on vacation in Florida when he received the news. Festival Chairperson Pat Lockwood called and asked Sharp whether he would like to provide the car for the grand marshal to ride in, as he has for 25 years.
"I said yes, I would," Sharp said. "She said, 'You're going to ride in it.'"
He feels undeserving of the honor, but it's wonderful, said Sharp, executive director and founder of Sharp Funeral Homes. His son, R. J. Sharp II, will be driving the black Corvette convertible.
"We are looking forward to it," Sharp said.
Fenton Freedom Festival, a nonprofit, selected Sharp as grand marshal at its first meeting in January. It was a unanimous decision, Lockwood said. Although Sharp belongs to many civic and community organizations, it was his quiet, behind-the-scenes support of the less fortunate that was the biggest factor in the committee's choice.
Very quietly, Sharp has helped many people in need, Lockwood said. And very quietly, many of those people came to the festival committee to tell us how much Sharp helped them and changed their lives around.
"He has really touched the hearts and lives of so many people," she said. "We've had some really great grand marshals, and we're just happy to add him to the list."
Sharp is a friend and supporter of the alumni association, Loose Senior Citizen Center, Veterans Memorial at Oakwood Cemetery and Fenton High School Athletic Hall of Fame. He belongs to the Fenton Lions Club, Fenton Community Foundation Board of Directors, the Double X Club, Fenton Regional Chamber of Commerce and Fenton Township Service Club. He's a major contributor to the St. John Applefest, Fenton Community Expo, Taste in Fenton and Fenton Area Resource & Referral (F.A.R.R.).
The Rev. David Harvey, of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Fenton, said he has known Sharp for a long time. Sharp is always a faithful supporter of the Applefest and can be counted upon to buy a raffle pie for $2,000 to $3,000 each year, Harvey said. In addition, Sharp buys all of the meat -- about 160 pounds -- for the chili Harvey makes for Applefest.
Mayor Pro Tem Cheryl King presented Sharp with a proclamation on behalf of Mayor Sue Osborn, Fenton City Council and the city. Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #3243 presented him with a certificate as well. Dennis Leyder, chairman and president of the Fenton Community Foundation; Shelly Day, president of the Fenton Regional Chamber of Commerce, and Mike DeMoss, of the Double X Club, also spoke in Sharp's honor.
All of the people who came to Tuesday's reception for Sharp at The Fenton Hotel Tavern and Grille couldn't fit in the room, Lockwood said. In addition, some weren't able to attend since they were out of town.
When Sharp called Lockwood at 7:30 Tuesday morning to ask when he should be there for the reception, he asked how many people to expect. Lockwood told him 20-25, she said.
"He said, 'I'm bringing 20,'" Lockwood added.
Sharp introduced his family, who own and operate Sharp Funeral Homes with him, and some of the people he knew in the audience. R. J. Sharp II said there are six grandchildren in the Sharp family, with another on the way.
"He is a very proud grandpa," Sharp II said.