GREENVILLE — Robert Sharp said he has been busy all of his life and he attributes that to his longevity.
Yes, Sharp turned 94 on Aug. 29, and is feeling pretty good, despite having had a setback in his health this past November.
“I’m older than the hills,” he said. “My first job was hauling milk for Nestle’s for 20 years, and in 1953, I went to Aero Products and worked for nine years. In 1966, I went to Cadillac-Gage in Greenville and worked for 23 years, retiring in 1987. For 20 some years I was working at Aero Products, came home, took a nap and hauled for Nestle’s from 3 to 11 p.m.”
He owned Nestle’s for a time. In fact, he’s the third owner of the company, which had its start in 1935. He bought it on March 22, 1946.
Sharp said he started hauling milk while he was in high school and continued after graduation until he went into the Coast Guard in 1942. He served for 3 1/2 years.
“I was getting ready to go overseas when the war ended,” said the son of the late Leroy “L.A.” and Marie (Brooks) Sharp.
In his retirement, he is raising tomatoes.
“I have 1,500 plants every year,” he said. “Last year, I had 1,300.”
He also has apple trees at his home.
“We’ll start making apple cider in two weeks,” Sharp said. “Charlie Jones took care of them this summer for me and I told him I would give him half. Two years ago we made 40 gallons. I had a cider press and it can do 20 gallons at a time. My son-in-law, Dan Phillippi, helps.”
Sharp said he also has a garden every year.
“I always have something,” he said.
Up until his setback last fall, Sharp was doing his own yard work. Since then, neighbor Marvin Mann has been doing it.
“I was always outside until I got laid up,” said Sharp, who is a member of the Greenville American Legion and the Eagles Lodge.
He said he was born in New Weston and started school in the one-room school on Cochran Road.
“We moved away when I was in fourth grade to south of Greenville and we went to Baker’s Store School where I went until eighth grade,” he recalled. “Then, I graduated form Palestine High School in 1939.”
He was even busy back then.
“When I started seventh grade at Wagner School, I was a janitor,” he said. “I went in everyday at 6 a.m. to the school three-fourths of a mile away and made a fire and brought the water in since there was no running water. Then in high school, I went to school every day, started a fire, rang the school bell and had to carry the pole in. There were no lights. There were eight windows with no air conditioning.”
He was the second oldest of six children. Only he and brother Verl are the only ones living. Deceased are brothers, Verl, Vern’s twin; A.D.; and Victor; as well as his sister, Maxine Bruss.
Bob met wife Geogianna through a friend. She was attending school in Greenville.
“She worked at John May Chevrolet for 20 years and was office manager for 10 or 12,” he said. “She died on Feb. 27, 2006. We lacked a month from being married 60 years when she died.”
The couple had two daughters, Debbie Mitchell and Vicki Phillippi; three grandchildren, Dr. Kati, Matt and Gabrielle; as well as two great-grandsons, Max and Drew.
“I did my own cooking until last November,” he said. “I still make pies, candies and oatmeal cookies. I take my chocolate candy when I go to the VA in Richmond. I get up at 8 a.m., make breakfast and watch television.”
His home since 1957 is recognizable. The sign Sharp’s Corner sits in his side yard on State Route 571-West.
“I never knew the name of it until I moved out here,” he said. “But it’s not the reason I bought it.”
He and his wife and daughters traveled to every state in the Union, except for Washington, Oregon and Alaska.
“I had a new Ford when we drove to California and Mexico in 1948,” he remembered. “We were gone 14 days and it cost us $250. Gas was 12 cents a gallon. On our second trip [along the same route] in 1963, it cost us $2,000.”
He also remembers when eggs were 12 cents a dozen, bread 3 cents a loaf and kerosene a dime a gallon in 1948.