Walter Sharpe (1924-2020)

  • War veteran: Richard Walter Sharpe (Photograph supplied)

    War veteran: Richard Walter Sharpe (Photograph supplied)

A war veteran and businessman who supported Warwick Academy students with bursaries and scholarships has died. Walter Sharpe was 95.

Mr Sharpe worked behind the scenes throughout the political career of his older brother, Sir John “Jack” Sharpe, who served as premier from 1975 to 1976.

Sir Jack, who died in 1999, in an obituary provided by the family, once referred to his brother as “the wind beneath my wings”.

The brothers grew up on the 15-acre family farm, “Greendale”, in Warwick, in a pre-car Bermuda where horses were still a major form of transport.

Mr Sharpe attended Warwick Academy from 1931 to 1940 and later studied at the Bermuda Commercial School in Paget.

When Warwick Academy marked its 350th anniversary in 2012, he donated a time capsule to be opened in 50 years.

Mr Sharpe turned 18 in 1942, when the Second World War raged in Europe, and joined the Bermuda Volunteer Engineers.

He learnt wireless telegraphy and decoding at the Royal Navy Depot at Daniel’s Head in Sandys and was stationed in St David’s.

But Mr Sharpe wanted to follow his older brother into active service, where he was serving as a navigator in the Royal Canadian Air Force over Europe and went to Canada to join the same service.

The jeep that took him to the airport was his first experience of motorised travel.

Mr Sharpe was sent to pilot training at Camp Borden, Ontario, then trained as an air gunner on Prince Edward Island and was commissioned as a Pilot Officer in January 1945.

But the war in Europe ended in May that year and, to his disappointment, he was never sent overseas.

Mr Sharpe’s later dream was to qualify as a maths teacher, but he had to abandon his studies at the University of Toronto and return to Bermuda because of lack of funds.

He became a book-keeper for importation and distribution firm Butterfield and Company, which later became Butterfield&Vallis, and met his Canadian-born wife, Nora, who worked for a different company in the same office block.

The couple married in 1948.

Mr Sharpe spent the bulk of his career at Butterfield and Company and retired as general manager in 1989.

He was credited with helping the business survive a disaster in 1981 when its warehouse on East Broadway in Hamilton was destroyed by fire.

The father of two was known for his talent for creating catchy advertising slogans in the early days of the business.

The two brothers also supplemented their income by driving taxis.

Mr Sharpe was a member of St Mary’s Anglican Church in Warwick and was treasurer for the Bermuda Athletic Association for 15 years.

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Published Jan 24, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated Jan 24, 2020 at 9:45 am)

Walter Sharpe (1924-2020)

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