John V. Sharpe and his wife Lessie Irvin Sharpe founded Sharpe Funeral Home in 1926. John a chef, and his wife, a schoolteacher, moved from Greensboro to Alamance County. His brothers Will and Robert Sharpe offered funeral services to the African-American population in Greensboro, and with John's move to Alamance County he wanted to make his own name within the funeral industry.
One problem he faced was that he did not meet all the necessary requirements to attend embalming school and obtain his license. Lessie, being a dedicated wife, transitioned from teaching to head to Philadelphia where she enrolled in Eckeles College of Embalming and Sanitary Science and earned her degree and was the first female African-American Embalmer in the state of North Carolina. Together they built a legacy of dedication in service.
The first 11 years the funeral home was located in a rented building. In 1937, Sharpe Funeral Home built and moved into its own building, where it is still located today. When John V. Sharpe passed away in 1957, Lessie retired and took on management of the funeral home along with one of their daughters Doris. Their son John was manager of their Roxboro, NC location; there was a site in Greensboro, NC and Lessie opened Chavis –Sharpe Funeral Home in Hillsborough, NC with the late Rev. Andrew Chavis. When Lessie passed in 1975, Doris assumed management responsibilities along with her husband Willis Gray.
Doris Sharpe-Gray pared the business back to just the Burlington location. When she died her sister, Mary Frances Sharpe Murray, did as her mother, retired as a schoolteacher and took on the family tradition. From 1980 to 2007 Mary Frances, as she is fondly know was responsible for the daily opertations of the funeral home. Desiring to be closer to her daughters, she retired and sought the professionalism and courtesy of Tracey W. Alston, Licensed Funeral Director.Tracey holds fast to the legacy of Mr. John V. and Lessie I. Sharpe, dedication to those we serve. Although times have changed, the principles remain the same.