SWARTZ CREEK — Sharp Funeral Home, a landmark in Swartz Creek and Genesee County, has risen from the ashes and has returned to serving the community with the dignity and honor for which they have long been known.
The Miller Road Chapel location suffered a devastating fire on May 16, 2018. At the time, Roger L. Sharp, founder and CEO, vowed to rebuild the flagship location. And, rebuild he has.
Sunday, the Sharp Family opened the doors for an open house at the Swartz Creek location, 8138 Miller Rd., and introduced the new look to the public.
The open house drew a very large crowd of well-wishers, including city officials, firefighters, and members the Swartz Creek Area Chamber of Commerce, who were on hand for the ceremonial ribbon cutting.
Mayor David Krueger said Sharp and his family have been a “great blessing” to the community for generations.
“It’s hard to say how much you’ve meant to the community and how much you’ve helped over the years,” Krueger said, adding that the Sharps have not only been there for area families in their times of grief, but also have supported many community efforts such as the summer concert series and Hometown Days.
The Rev. Manley Pierce, former pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, offered the prayer during the ceremony, and thanked the Sharps for their dedication to serving the community with “compassion, dignity and respect.”
Roger L. (RJ) Sharp II, president of business operations, said the open house was an opportunity to thank the community for the continued support throughout the construction process and to spotlight improvements designed to improve the already quality services offered.
On that fateful night in 2018, surrounded by the ruins of the building they had occupied since 1969, the Sharp Family stepped up and did not miss a beat. With the support of the three other area Sharp Funeral Homes and Hill Creek Church, funerals continued without interruption and reconstruction began.
According to Sharp II, the 18,000-squarefoot building reflects the comforting and comfortable surroundings families have come to expect from Sharp Funeral Home. There are also a few added improvements to available services.
In addition to five chapels available for services, Sharp II pointed to the modernization of the audio and video capabilities. This technology upgrade, he said, will add increased quality to music, sound, and videos that have become staples in today’s funeral services.
The one-level facility also features a new reception area for afterservice gatherings. Additionally, office spaces and other work areas have been improved to target family convenience and satisfaction.
However, among the midst of changes, there are two items making return appearances keeping the Sharp traditions alive – the Diana Grandfather Clock and the fall scene mosaic art piece.
Thanks to the generosity of the GFWC Swartz Creek Women’s Club fundraiser, the stately grandfather clock that was lost to the fire has been replaced. According to the fundraiser site, the clock was replaced “to demonstrate community support for Roger Sharp and family after their experience of loss due to a devastating fire at their establishment.”
The fall scene mosaic that hung in the funeral home was a family rescue. After the fire, the senior Sharp’s children retrieved the artwork without their father’s knowledge. Sending it off for restoration, the piece was revived and now hangs in the building in honor of the man who started it all.
Sharp II views the clock and mosaic as perfect examples of why Sharp Funeral Home succeeds and continues to thrive in Swartz Creek and Genesee County. They represent family and community.
He said the fire pulled his family together. “They stepped up and pulled together and made it work,” he said.
The community stood by them and were “pretty amazing,” he continued. Referring to the helpfulness of city and county staff and officials, he said, “They made sure we got back up as quickly as we could. We couldn’t have done it without them.”
Finally, it was the community as whole offering support with continued business and donations for the clock. While the fire brought a cloud of darkness, Swartz Creek and Genesee County brought the Sharp Funeral Home and Sharp Family a silver lining. — L.R.