Cover photo for William Joseph Sharpe's Obituary
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1948 Joe Sharpe 2024

William Joseph Sharpe

January 7, 1948 — February 25, 2024

Bozeman


In the morning of February 25, 2024, Joe Sharpe, 76, suffered a fatal heart attack while viewing the morning news in his favorite easy chair. He was born in Chickasha, Oklahoma, to William and Nell Sharpe.

 

In his youth, Joe excelled in anything automotive. In the last lap of a National Go Kart Championship race he was leading by a huge distance when his engine blew up. He had to settle for 2nd Place, with no motor. That one factor seemed to define the rest of his life.

 

Joe served as an Air Force medic during the Vietnam conflict. During his service he was injured badly, receiving third degree burns on much of his upper body. The injury took all his fingers on both hands leaving him with a small portion of a thumb on his right hand and surgery adapted left hand with a split palm rendering him hardly able to grasp objects. The injury sustained did not slow him down at all. As he was once a determined child racer he became an even more determined adult. Joe became a private pilot, a double rated flight instructor, an alpine skier, a flyfishing guide, a hunter, and a scuba diver. He also loved fast cars, owned many, and drove them as intended.

 

Joe moved to Bozeman, Montana, and continued his life of flying, skiing, and hunting. Joe became an accomplished alpine skier. He taught many friends to ski, fish, shoot, fly, and party while being safe and sane. Joe was a teacher at heart. Ask anyone who took the “hot seat” while Joe was rowing a mountain river. Even if you knew what you were doing you soon learned how to do it Joe’s way. Rowing while he fished was another experience friends will not soon forget. Joe always had a dog or two. They were always present as he hunted and fished with them through Montana and the Dakotas.

 

Joe married the love of his life, Tia Robbins, in 1987. Tia soon graduated from Montana State University with a master’s degree in electrical engineering and took a job with Boeing in Seattle. There, Joe made local friends in the area almost instantly. He was like that. Anyone that met him seemed to sense an instant camaraderie and felt like they had known him forever. Sure, some people felt he was overbearing and opinionated, but that was their loss and not his. He would not change for the weak willed.

 

However, Joe and Tia missed their home in Gallatin Gateway on the Gallatin River and, so after three years in Seattle they moved back to their Montana home. Unfortunately, after 20 years of marriage they divorced. Tia proceeded Joe in death just over a year ago. He still loved her very much and mourned her passing with a heavy heart.

 

Back in Montana. Joe was again in his element. He began working as a professional fishing guide for the local fishing outfitters. Over the next 20 years, he gained a following from many clients from the local fly shops and the Yellowstone Club. Many asked that he be available for walking fishing tours and lunches on the upper Gallatin River.

 

Joe, “flipped the script” again when, shortly after his 59th birthday he began scuba diving. The pain from past injuries was, by now, almost constant and he found that in the warm waters of a coral reef it almost disappeared. He traveled the world with his scuba gear. He loved Cozumel the most and was considering purchasing property there up to the time of his passing. That desire was an indication of his determination to always look forward and never look back. He celebrated his 500th dive during his last trip. What a guy!

 

Joe leaves a large contingent of relatives and friends, most importantly, Bobbie Jean Bailey, a cousin, who cared for him through his many illnesses over the last several years. Bless you, Bobbie.

 

Joe knew that Jesus promised that we are born to die and that we die to live. He and I discussed it many times. Joe said during his injury and recovery he had “died” three times. Each time he decided to come back and teach the world a thing or two. And he did. This time he accepted the invitation. We know he is now resting, whole once again, in the arms of Our Savior.

 

He was preceded in death by his parents and his former wife, Tia Sharpe. If I know Joe, he is waiting for us, having found the best flyfishing spots and the best scenery Heaven has to offer. He will be there when we arrive, ready to teach us what it is all about.

 

Please use Joe as an example in your life.  We love you, Joe. Godspeed. See you on the other side. 

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