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Robert Sharpe Jr.
Robert Sharpe Jr.

A Tribute to Robert F. Sharpe Jr.

He was a person of honor and integrity—a real 'mensch.' And he will be missed.

Sadly, the chair of the Trusts & Estates editorial advisory board Philanthropy Committee, Robert F. Sharpe Jr., died suddenly on Feb. 4.

Robert was a nationally recognized expert in the field of philanthropy and charitable giving. His involvement with Trusts & Estates was invaluable. His bimonthly columns for the magazine hit on emerging trends and issues that caught the attention of the media and others in the industry. He had a keen eye for identifying what was coming down the pike. For example, in one article, he discussed the rise of “affluenza” and how to deal with it—and this was before the college admission scandal made national headlines. He was also very interested in the motives behind giving to charity and was convinced that it wasn’t just to get tax breaks—in fact, he was quick to point out that people were donating money to charities before there were estate taxes.

Robert also helped keep the Philanthropy Committee filled with knowledgeable experts. He knew so many people who worked in different areas of the field and was kind enough to introduce me to them. He looked for individuals with different skills and backgrounds. Many of our committee members today are on our board because of Robert’s introductions.

He was also a person of honor and integrity—a real “mensch.” I remember the first time I met him in person, soon after I started at Trusts & Estates, at a philanthropy conference in New York City. He had let me know in advance that he would be speaking and invited me to attend the conference and meet him for coffee beforehand. I agreed to go and then searched the conference agenda to see at which session he would be speaking. I couldn’t find his name on any of the sessions that day. Then I glanced at the name of the lunch keynote speaker: It was Robert. He had been too modest to mention that “small” fact to me. When we met for coffee, he was brimming with suggestions for topics that we should be covering in Trusts & Estates. I could barely keep up with him as I scribbled his ideas on my notepad.

He was, unsurprisingly, extremely well respected by his fellow Philanthropy Committee members. Committee member Chris Woehrle shared the following: “It was my privilege to know Robert for decades. His counsel was always wise and friendship priceless. What a marvelous teacher of and advocate for philanthropy.” In the same vein, committee member Jonathan Tidd said, “Bob Sharpe was a good friend. Not only was he a giant in the gift planning community, but also he was a decent, good human being. I'll miss him as will many, many others.” Exactly my sentiment and that of the Trusts & Estates editorial staff as well.

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