A Tribute to Dr. Homer Sharp

by Wesley Eastridge, M.D.

{skeleton}Homer F. Sharp, Jr. is retiring as professor of biology at Oxford College of Emory University. Here is my thanks for what he gave to us students.


Autumn, 1976, Oxford, Georgia-- Dr. Sharp interrupted my important work in the library one day. I may have been reading about boundary equations in calculus or a new verb tense in French. I took my work seriously and was in a race against time to master myriad new concepts before the next test came and more material was assigned.

“Have you got some time this afternoon, Wesley?” he asked.

“Yes, sir,” I lied.

“I’m going to check on a deciduous conifer I haven’t seen in a couple of years. Come ride shotgun with me.”

Now a ‘pine tree’ that loses its needles in winter is only mildly interesting at best and the shotgun rider in Dr. Sharp’s truck carries no gun, only conversation. I knew the Oxford College biology professor was inviting me to have discourse with him, and I accepted.

We climbed into a blue Ford pickup truck with his trademark walking stick poking up from the cattle rack hole in the side. As we drove up the countryside he asked me about my family and where I lived in Tennessee. Then he asked, “Do you see any conflict between the theory of evolution and the biblical creation story?”

Being a sophomore at the time, who by definition has all the answers, I answered, "No." Science was just the study of how God created the world and can’t address whether He did it. He went on and discussed the question anyway. I didn’t know at the time I would still be wrestling with aspects of that question twenty years later, but perhaps he did.

Dr. Sharp taught me to like salted peanuts in a 6 ½ ounce hobbleskirt bottle of Coke. We drank them in his office where students often gathered to talk about anything. He required so much memorization in his classes that he awarded few A’s. However our recitation of phyla, classes and orders was outdone by his recollection of countless students, past and present, along with who their parents were, where they lived, and who else lived there. We were awestruck.

Maybe we studied harder to memorize because he showed he could do it himself. Even if not though, we were blessed to have him around during that time when mind-stretching ideas were challenging our opinions and values. May God bless professors who are capable, caring and conscientious. And, thank you, Dr. Sharp.


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