Mary Frances, middle child and elder daughter of John Van Buren Sharpe, Sr. and Lessie Irvin Sharpe was born on May 20, 1923 in Guilford County, NC. She and her siblings, John, Jr. “Van” and Doris “Baby” began schooling at a Lutheran pre-school in Greensboro. After completing seventh grade at Grace Lutheran, Mary attended and graduated from Mary Potter High School, a Presbyterian Boarding School in Oxford, NC.
North Carolina College for Negroes in Durham; now, North Carolina Central University (NCCU) was the undergraduate college of choice for Mary Frances. Her major educational studies led to a Bachelor of Arts in English and History. Upon graduation, opportunities for work in education were readily available. Mary Frances’ first jobs in education included working with returning veterans and teaching them basic skills in reading and math. Next, she joined two ladies at Rock Creek Elementary School teaching seventh and eighth graders English, Science, Language, History and Physical Education. She became an energetic leader whose interests extended to the total community not just the school.
She completed her Master’s Degree at NCCU and finished additional post-graduate work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After Rock Creek, she went into the Central Office where she became an Itinerant Speech Therapist and Supervisor and Director of Educational Support Systems.
In 1980, Mary Frances retired from the Alamance-Burlington School System. She obtained her Funeral Director’s License on December 2, 1983 and assumed the role of President and CEO of Sharpe Funeral Home, Inc. She was awarded the prestigious Kentucky Colonel designation and was known as the Honorable Mary Frances Sharpe Murray. In 2007, Mary Frances, desiring to be closer to her daughters, retired and sought the professionalism and courtesy of Tracey W. Alston, Licensed Funeral Director, to continue the legacy and tradition of Sharpe Funeral Home, Inc.
At her foundation was a commitment to her family, friends, students and her Roman Catholic faith. As a member of Blessed Sacrament Church, she was a Lector, Eucharistic Minister, Home School Association Officer, and Parish Council Member. Genuine caring, compassion and quality service have always been the hallmarks of the Sharpe Family and Sharpe Funeral Home, Inc. Serving on Church and Civic committees, Mary Frances Murray has proven that her life was more than her resume and her experiences. As a woman of substance and good will, she has truly been a role model and inspiration to all.
Following 96 years of wonderful living, Mary Frances Sharpe Murray, peacefully passed away surrounded by her daughters in Peoria, IL. She leaves loving and lasting memories to her devoted daughters: Angela Marc Murray Roberson and Vida Sharpe Murray; nephew: Steve Bradshaw and niece: Billie Gray Porter; the Sharpe Funeral Home, Inc. Management and Staff, many students and dear friends.
She now joins her parents: John VanBuren Sharpe, Sr. and Lessie Irvin Sharpe; siblings: John VanBuren Sharpe, Jr. and Doris Sharpe Gray; and son-in-law, Glenn Roberson.
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