I don’t know. Maybe you have to reach a certain age in life to really care how you will be remembered. All I know is that suddenly I find myself quite often asking myself if my life has mattered to anyone other than my immediate family, whether or not I’ve actually accomplished any worthwhile thing, whether I have made another soul’s load a little lighter.
Today, Dublin’s Patty Hirst writes of Belle Sharp, someone that I did not know, but someone who apparently did live a life that mattered to others in the community.
Belle Morgan Sharp was a lifelong connection in Dublin’s continuity. Characterized by her strong mettle, Belle also possessed an amazing amount of spunk. Keen wit and a finely honed sense of humor welded with grit, that was Belle.
Ushered into the Greens Creek community on November 8, 1929, Belle was born in a white two-story house that came complete with dog-trot. It sat just south of St. Mary’s Catholic Church—neither Hwy. 377 nor the church existed then.
Only five when her mother died, Belle’s stamina began forming very early. Chasteen Morgan took his children–Belle, her sister and two brothers–to live with his parents in the St. George community.
Though her childhood was marred by the loss of her mother, a number of generous adults made their way into Belle’s life and set the example for “taking care of” and “giving back to” family and community.
Her Grandmother Morgan was as enormous influence in her life and nourished Belle with kindness and great care. Also having prime impact on Belle was St. George’s teacher, Miss Dessie Tackett. Belle remembered, “Miss Tackett was so good to me. Every morning she would get me up close to the big wood stove and warm my hands and feet.”
That hint of good-natured mischief that made Belle so special to us was present even in those early school days. Belle remembered, “I was so little when I started school, and one morning I played ‘possum. Miss Tackett got all the kids’ coats around me and put me up close to the stove. She told everyone to be very quiet and let me sleep.
“I lay still as long as I could, and then I had to wiggle!” said Belle. “My brother and sister knew what I’d done and told my daddy when we got home. It upset him that I had done that, and I never did it again.”
Completing their early years at the St. George school, the Morgan children then +transferred to Proctor. The teacher put benches in the bed of a pickup and provided their transportation to school.
The Santa Fe Railroad set yet another benevolent example when each Christmas the conductor would slow the train as it came through their place and toss off a sack filled with fruit and candy for Belle and her siblings.
In town with a friend, Belle met her husband, H.C. Sharp on July 3, 1944. “He invited me to go to the show the next night and I told him I would if my daddy would let me,” said Belle. “When he came to get me he went to my daddy first and asked if I could go.”
When Sharp was ready to propose, he again went to Belle’s father first and receiving Morgan’s permission, was directed to Belle’s Grandmother Morgan for her consent. The prospective bride was finally asked, and the couple was wed on November 30, 1944.
The groom was almost twice the bride’s age. Belle laughed, “People said it wouldn’t last, and it only lasted 55 years.”
Sharp passed away in July 2000.
Belle’s mother-in-law, Mrs. F. A. Sharp was a strong influence of generosity and goodness; coupled with her Grandmother Morgan, the two ladies acted as mother figures and set the standard for Belle’s rich devotion to family and service.
Her valiancy was gravely tested when her younger brother was killed in Korea. Having volunteered for service at 17, he was killed only five days into his deployment.
From 1962-1988, Belle helped prepare and serve lunch and later breakfast as well to hundreds of Dublin ISD students. She dispensed a sense of humor and attention in addition to food as youngsters passed through the cafeteria. Leaving to nurse her father who was ill and passed away in 1991, Belle described her time at school as “good years; the school employees were fewer in number then and functioned as a big family.”
She recalled the time when all Dublin banquets were held in the school cafeteria and the “lunchroom ladies” prepared the food as well as served it. Later when events had catered fare, these ladies still served the banquet meals; Belle again served the people as well as their food as the line moved along.
With several other couples, Belle and her husband helped found the Community Baptist Church. In 1993, the congregation began under a tree at the city park, moved to a downtown storefront, to the senior citizens’ building, and when they “got the money together” built a meeting place, debt free in 1996. The sanctuary, also debt free, was completed in 2001.
Understanding Belle’s moxie well, her husband wanted to be buried in the Lower Greens Creek Cemetery; that request was granted. Sharp said that way, Belle could wave at him each time she drove to Stephenville; Belle allowed, “I do; I wave at him every time.”
Losing her husband and sister within a month’s time in 2000, she had the arduous task of burying son, Elvin in 2008. Sons Ronald, Leslie, and Michael, daughters-in-law Vicki, Helen, Debra, and Susan, plus her grandchildren were the joys of Belle’s life.
She wanted her family to remember, “I was a Christian, I loved them, and I cooked a lot!” and that her legacy is having been a good wife, a good mother, and a Christian. Belle also reflected that the best way for a person to make a difference is to be friendly and help anyone who needs it, and she walked the walk on that one.
Belle’s life was truly one of service and fortitude. Her grandmother, mother-in-law, teacher, along with other adults who were her mentors demonstrated by example the role of God’s servant.
Belle Sharp learned the lessons well.