Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Elisabeth Ann Swinson Sharp (Oma)


On Saturday, July 26, 2008, at 5:42 pm, Elisabeth Ann Swinson Sharp died after a long illness of cancer and its sequellae. She died at home with her family at her bedside. She was 78 years old. The funeral will be at the Cathedral Church of All Saints on Garden Street on Saturday, August 2, at 10:00 AM. Arrangements are being made through John Thomas Funeral Home.
She lived a full and extraordinary life. She was born on St. Thomas, December 11, 1929 to The Rev. John Arthur Swinson and Gracia Minnie Schlie. Her father was priest at All Saints Episcopal Church from 1927 to 1953, Canon of the Cathedral, Vicar General and Archdeacon of the Virgin Islands. He was also the founder of All Saints School. Elisabeth was one of seven children raised on Blackbeard’s Hill at the church Rectory, now known as Villa Notman.
She found her true love in Theodore Elting Sharp when he served on St. Thomas as an officer in the US Navy in charge of supplies at Sub base in the 1940s. They were married at All Saints on April 21, 1945 when she was only fifteen years old. Theodore predeceased her in 1997 in St. Thomas after almost 52 years of marriage.
She is survived by three of her four children: Dr. Susan G.S. Anderson and her husband, Daniel H. Llewellyn, of St. Thomas and Williamsport, Pennsylvania; Jacqueline L. Sharp of Toluca Lake, California; William E. Sharp and his wife, Joyce Ching, of Oxnard, California. Her son, Stanley E. Sharp, predeceased her in 1998. She is also survived by her grandchildren: Eric G. Anderson and wife, JoAnna Hite; Marcotte S. Anderson and wife, Caroline Que; M. Elisabeth W. Anderson and husband, Rob Upson; and by her great-grandchildren: Patrick T. Anderson, Hannah G. Anderson, Aiden C. Anderson and Ethan L. Anderson. She is survived by her siblings: Mary Gracia Hall and husband, John Hall; Grace Martin and husband, George Martin; and James K. Swinson. Three siblings predeceased her: Jane Mcleod, John Swinson, and Dorothy DeWitt Baldwin.
Growing up in St. Thomas in the 1930’s and 1940’s was filled with experiences unique to the islands: waiting for missionary barrels to come in with a doll or dress, avoiding tarantulas inside the house and out, storms/hurricanes, mass every Sunday at All Saints, visits with the parishioners with her father, and schooling by her mother at home.
During the war her mother took the children to Oakland, California. Elisabeth, bored with the public schools, followed her older sister, Jane, back to St. Thomas to open a dress and gift shop on Back Street. She first met her true love, Theodore Sharp, while walking to Lindbergh Beach across the airfield. Theodore and another officer stopped their jeep to tell Elisabeth and her friend that they couldn’t be on the field. Of course Elisabeth and her friend had crossed the field precisely because they knew that officers would drive over and tell them exactly that! Later she serendipitously answered his call to the Rectory and ended up dating him. Her wedding at All Saints was “a grand military affair that was so glorious,” said All Saints organist Addelita Cancryn before she died. The wedding reception was at Bluebeard’s Castle Hotel, one of the only 3 locations for such affairs at the time (Hotel 1829 and the Grand Hotel being the other two.)
After living in St. Thomas for a few years following her marriage to Theodore, they relocated around the United States (and other Territories) sent by Theodore’s Navy assignments. The family settled in Toluca Lake, California in 1956. Elisabeth was an independent woman, who raised her four children while attending UCLA studying languages, math and science. She was a free thinker who believed in the power of a good education whether from a teacher, book, experience, or from God. She traveled extensively, including taking her children on a freighter to live in Switzerland when Theodore was at sea with the Navy. She inspired her children with road trips across the Alps and visits around Europe. She was a passionate women’s liberationist, urging her daughters to do the most and be the best they could be overcoming gender prejudice.
As a result of her interest in genealogy, she opened Sharp Copy Service in Los Angeles. It’s services were well used to copy the records that she needed to do her genealogy. The shop expanded into a new and used Bookstore, specializing in New Age and Spiritual Books.
Elisabeth was interested in the spiritual life and higher consciousness. She read and studied all the religions and found serenity in knowing that all religions believe in the same values: love, goodness and kindness. She studied the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda and others. She sometimes rose in the wee hours of the morning to meditate for up to three hours. Even with this understanding of spiritual oneness, during her illness she returned to her Christian roots, enjoying the chance to go to church or having communion brought to her at home.
She had a generous heart, opening her home to friends and family who were without a place to live. Her immediate family never knew who would be there when they came home. She loved a house full of people and activity. She loved the Swinson family get-togethers that ballooned in size as the original 8 Swinson siblings transformed into over 35 cousins and their many children, many of whom were beneficiaries of her generosity.
She and Theodore moved back to St. Thomas permanently in 1994 living at Cowpet Bay West in Estate Nazareth. She was a member of the Yacht Club, the St. Thomas Historical Trust and an ardent member of the St. Thomas Bridge Club. A woman of many interests, she developed her bridge acumen early. Through the years she was a weekly bridge player, a hobby that waned in the later years. However, after Theodore died, she started up again on a regular basis. She and her good friend and bridge partner, Gwen Sharp, monopolized the winner’s circle. They traveled on bridge cruises and became a nearly unbeatable team. Her goal was to be a Life Master, and she had all her Gold and Red points, which were the hardest to get, but she still needed her Silver and Black points.
She enjoyed the immense camaraderie of St. Thomas life. She was most comforted by the generosity and goodness of the local people she saw everyday. Whether she was at home, at the Cancer Center, the Bridge Club, the Caribbean Genealogy Library or the Yacht Club, the grocery store or the gas station, she loved the people and life in St. Thomas. She believed in supporting and preserving the history of the Virgin Islands. She loved antiques, and was a regular purchaser at the annual St. Thomas Synagogue Auction. Throughout her life she believed in the immense importance of furniture, architecture, art, books and records.
When Theodore died in 1997, Elisabeth set up a scholarship in his name through the Community Foundation of the VI. With many donations to the fund, a scholarship for college is given out each year to a VI high school graduate who demonstrates a history and passion for community service. Elisabeth continued to support Theodore’s and her own belief in education as the groundwork for one’s future.
She was a historian and researcher. She was most proud of her accomplishments in starting two genealogy libraries, The Immigrant Genealogy Library in North Hollywood, California, and The Caribbean Genealogy Library in St. Thomas. Genealogy was a large part of her life as an expert in German family research. She had a passion for it that infected many.
Elisabeth was a true individual. She supported. She believed. She loved.

The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in her name to the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands designated for ongoing support of the Caribbean Genealogy Library. For ease in reference, CFVI's contact information is as follows:
Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands
P.O. Box 11790
St. Thomas, VI 00801-1790

Here is a short slide show of some pictures from the past couple of years. We have more before this however, they were before digital and we haven't gotten them all scanned in yet. My grandmother know as Oma to my children help raise me after I was born and was a wonderful grandmother who always doted on us. Patrick and Hannah loved visiting her and talking with Oma. At the beginning of July we spent time with her and Patrick and Hannah both got to spend time sitting and watching TV with Oma. She always wanted to watch what the kids were watching and doing so she was exposed to all the latest Disney shows. We were fortunate to be able to spend two weeks with Oma and will cherish our memories forever.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

New Adventures

Patrick and JoAnna left on some new adventures This past Saturday.

Patrick left at 6:30 am for Bigstuff Camp with the church youth group.
(What's scary is it reminded me about when I would go to camp. He is growing up quick) He gets home tonight so we will try and get something up faster than I did with vacation.

JoAnna also left Saturday with her mom and her partner Maryanna and Elizabeth for Guatemala with Faith at Work. They will be building a school in a remote village on the side of a mountain. JoAnna called once and is having a great time and is enjoying using her Spanish. One thing she mentioned was what a reality check it has been. Well more info and pictures when they return in a week.

The other major event is my high school class "Class of '88" is having it's 20th HS reunion this coming weekend. Unfortunately I won't be able to attend. I didn't find out until last month and we already had all these plans in motion. I am starting this year though to be ready for the next one.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Summer Vacation Part 1

Due to the size of the pictures and text, I am having to do this in multiple posts. I wanted to put the first one up so you could start reading it. There is more good stuff to come.

This year we visited my grandmother (Oma) in St Thomas USVI. We did something a little different and spent two weeks there. The downside was we missed other family member who live there, but the up side was it was I think one our most relaxing vacations in over two years. We arrived and spent a couple of days settling in and then relaxed for a little over a week and then got to visit with my brother Marcotte his wife Caroline and or new (7 months) nephew Ethan. Jackie also flew down and roomed with Hannah who was excited to see Jackie again.

We traveled to Truck Bay on St John's within the first couple of days. We left out of Red Hook on the car ferry and arrived at Cruz Bay. Below are pictures going to and returning as well as while we were on St John.

We went to Secret Harbor to snorkel another day but then for the rest of the trip, we stayed at Cowpet and relaxed. Got up, went to the beach, in the afternoon we went to the pool, and then we would clean up and see Oma in the evening. Then the next day we did it all again.

JoAnna: Look we are going to get on the ferry and go out into the big ocean!

Patrick: Huh? we're going where?

Hannah: (laughing) Duh mommy, how do you think we got here?

Summer Vacation Part 2

Patrick took a day off and decided to sit in the condo in his pajamas and watch TV and read.

This of course didn't include the medical leave day he took when he sat with Oma to recuperate from the massive attack that was waged on him by the island wildlife.

Arriving back at the condo one evening, there was a hermit crab at the doorstep. Patrick named it Hermi and picked it up to look at it. The shell was about the size of a softball so it was big. Well Patrick while looking at it, said "Hermi, want to pinch me?" to which Hermi responded by latching onto Patrick's thumb. At first everyone was laughing including Patrick until it was apparent that Hermi wasn't going to let go. Using my extensive former military combat training and reflexes, I quickly dumped my cup of ice water on the hermit crab subconsciously maybe hoping i could drown it! (LOL) Or shock it into letting go. I ended up getting the house key into the claw and prying it open. To which Hermi decided it would come after me! No blood had been drawn but when we ran Patrick's thumb under cold water the pain was like nothing he had felt before and ended up losing dinner.

The next night we feasted on crab cakes on a half shell! No no really but for the rest of the trip, whenever we saw a shell we would ask Patrick if it was a hermit crab or ask him to check it for us. He was a good sport about it all!

Hannah had her hair braided while we were there. It hurts when they put them in and it hurts when we take them out. (I'll never understand. Buzz cuts for all! LOL)

She decided that next time she wants to get them done all the way to the ends.

Paradise Point is the one tourist type thing we do. The kids like riding the sky cars up and then seeing the bird show.

We get the kids pictures taken with the birds and then hike up the nature trail to look at the view of the harbor and take a family picture. This year they added a reverse bungee jump on the side of the mountain so Hannah and JoAnna had a blast jumping over the side of the mountain.

The rest of the trip was spent on the beach swimming and snorkeling and in general relaxing.

And of course the kids took hundreds of pictures of iguanas.

Summer Vacation Part 3

This should be the final part. The blog started having issues when I made a post to big.

Anyway, towards the end of the vacation, Patrick and I went sailing and My brother Marcotte, His wife Caroline and son Ethan and my aunt Jackie arrived. We had not seen Ethan since he was born and hadn't seen Marcotte and Caroline since their wedding so we were excited.

Patrick and I took a sunfish out of Cowpet one day. The wind had been really good for most of the vacation so we headed out. We were cruising along healing a good bit and a gust of wind hit us. I let out on the main sheet to compensate and while Patrick and I were leaning over the side, he felt the gust and leaned further out. Of course my compensation and his for the gust didn't work together very well. As the boat leveled out a bit and Patrick was leaning over the side more, Patrick's feet weren't under the straps so he executed just about a perfect diver's roll right out of the boat. I was able to let go of the sail and grab his hand and he climbed back in the boat. We were laughing the whole time.

Hannah and Jackie loved playing with each other in the water and hung out as much as possible.

Caroline, JoAnna and Hannah

Caroline, Ethan and Marcotte

Hanging out at the pool!

Ethan eating in Oma's room

JoAnna and Caroline! ( I wonder what they are plotting?)

Oma with her great grandchildren and Caroline with the coming soon addition! It was such a joy to see Oma's face light up when she saw Ethan.


St Thomas, USVI
July 2008