Roger Sharp is a proud man. He’s proud of his time spent serving in the United States Army, proud of what he has been able to do for his community through his successful business, Sharp Funeral Homes and, above all, he is proud of our nation’s veterans and what they have done for this country. “I’m proud to be a veteran and I am proud of all the veterans we are able to serve through the funeral homes,” he states. “We are proud to lend support to various veterans organizations, as well as the Great Lakes National Cemetery.”
Even in his earliest days, military service was always a part of Sharp’s life. “My youth was very veteran-oriented,” he recalls. “My dad and uncles served in World War II and Korea—the Sharp family is a damn proud vet family!” For Roger, his time of service started with the Army in May, 1966, when he reported for infantry school at Fort Benning, GA. “I worked as an officer’s aid and never served in combat,” he explains. “I never served overseas and I feel guilty about that. Still, I enjoyed my time in service as much as I’ve enjoyed anything else in my life.”
After the Army, Sharp purchased the Bendle Funeral Home in Swartz Creek in 1970, where he established the first Sharp Funeral Home. His business quickly grew to include four facilities in Genesee County and that success has allowed him to give back to the community and veterans at large. “I owe my business success to my days of disciplined life in the United States Army,” he says.
Sharp Funeral Homes has provided significant support to a number of charity organizations and civil groups such as the American Cancer Society, McLaren Hospice, Genesee County Alzheimer’s Association, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Fenton Lions Club, Fraternal Order of Police, Junior League of Flint, Flint River Watershed, Flint Institute of Arts, Muscular Dystrophy Association, Genesee County Historical Society and dozens more. (The list is nearly endless.) Above all, it is Sharp’s support of local veterans that shines the brightest.
He makes it a point to provide assistance to area groups such as Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and the American Legion in their efforts to help veterans in today’s world. “The veteran organizations do a lot of good things for vets in our community,” he acknowledges. “For example, they will visit veterans who are ill in nursing homes or hospitals, and will help transport vets to hospitals and important appointments. They do so much for their fellow veterans.” An auxiliary member of the Fenton VFW, Sharp is worried about the future of such groups. Their membership has been declining in recent years as younger vets decline to join. “We need new veterans to fill the void,” he states.
In 2005, Sharp and Grand Blanc veteran Rich Anderson worked together to open Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly. “Rick, myself and many others were instrumental in getting Great Lakes National Cemetery up and running,” says Sharp. “It serves as a wonderful place of final rest for any honorably discharged vet and their spouse. If Rick were here today (Anderson passed away in 2021), he would be proud of the people who are running it now.” Sharp states that Sharp Funeral Home staff is at the cemetery multiple times per week to honor vets.
Sharp Funeral Homes have become known throughout mid-Michigan as a business that goes above and beyond for veterans, offering a variety of services including their Flag Raising Memorial Program. “It’s our way of honoring a veteran and their family for their life and service,” says Sharp Community Outreach Coordinator, Jay Coldwell. “At the beginning of every month, we honor the life and memory of a veteran with a flag-raising service at our chapel. We present the family with a certificate of participation.” A biography of the veteran is then posted at each Sharp chapel, as well as online at sharpfuneralhomes.com. Any honorably discharged veteran is eligible for consideration. Sharp also sponsors a weekly posting in the Tri-County Times newspaper honoring an area veteran.
“I’m proud to be a veteran and I am proud of all the veterans we are able to serve through the funeral homes.”
We should all be grateful to our veterans for what they have sacrificed for our freedom and many of them are still struggling to survive in today’s world. “Until recent years, vets did not get the counseling support in health and finance that they need and are entitled to,” states Sharp. “I’ve seen many suffering from PTSD who were unable to get help for over a year. Still, I see many vets neglect to apply for the benefits that they are entitled to. Many benefits are available for vets including skilled trades training and other education for use in civilian life. I believe that if you can make it in the military, you can do anything you want to in this world.” If you are a veteran or know one who needs help applying for benefits, Sharp encourages you to contact the Genesee County Department of Veterans Services or Sharp Funeral Home.
Roger Sharp owes his life of success to years spent in the U.S. military and cherishes his time there. He is driven to continue working tirelessly for his community and its veterans, and believes we all should feel the same. “Everyone should serve our country in some way,” he states, “be it in the military, Peace Corps or community service. Offer something that you will not be rewarded for other than a good feeling about what you have done in your older years. I’m always honored to serve.”