News Column

Kings County lawyer Sidney J.W. Sharp Jr. developed real estate projects in Hanford

July 3, 2014

By Lewis Griswold, The Fresno Bee

July 03--Sidney J.W. Sharp Jr. practiced law in Kings County, but his real passion was developing real estate projects in Hanford.

Mr. Sharp, whose roots went back to pioneer days, died at his home Saturday in Hanford of leukemia. He was 79.

His great-grandfather, Craigie Sharp, moved to Hanford in 1872 and co-founded First Christian Church.

Mr. Sharp's father was a lawyer who developed real estate projects around Hanford.

Sharp graduated from Stanford Law School, just like his father, and returned to Hanford to go into business with his dad.

"The die was cast," said Diane Sharp Johnson, Mr. Sharp's daughter.

For four decades, Mr. Sharp represented ditch companies that had water rights on the Kings River and specialized in estate planning.

But he had a passion for real estate development, including commercial properties on East Lacey Boulevard and office and retail development in downtown Hanford.

He donated land for city parking lots and developed the Douty Street Stables retail and office project and other projects downtown.

He also co-founded the Kings Art Center, a gallery and art education center.

"Representatives of the Hanford Women's Club had come to him asking for advice on what to do with their underutilized Douty Street clubhouse," his daughter said. "He asked them to donate it and the Kings Arts Center was born."

Most recently, Mr. Sharp was in the process of rebuilding on the site of the Vendome Hotel, a family-owned property that burned down two years ago.

Architect Ron Marlette of Clovis was retained for the Vendome project.

"As many successful men do, he brought out the best in you," Marlette said. "He was direct, honest, forthright."

Pastor Tom Warren at First Christian Church said Mr. Sharp had a special rapport with tenants, who would call out "Hey, Sid!" to him.

"They'd go out of their way just to talk to him," he said. "They were genuinely glad to see him."

Mr. Sharp's former law partner Bob Behrens called him "a quiet leader" who favored a collegial approach to problem solving.

"He was a person who always took a fair approach with anybody," Behrens said. "His approach to the law was to find a fair resolution and convince his client that's what he should want."

Bill Theis of Hanford said they met in their school years flying model airplanes, a lifelong hobby for Mr. Sharp along with rebuilding old cars.

Because he was tall -- 6-foot-5 -- he took a 1954 GMC pickup and "stretched it 14 inches" for a more comfortable ride, Theis recalled.

He married his wife Janet in 1957.

"Their first date was a Job's Daughters dance in the eighth grade," their daughter said.

Both played tennis and won mixed doubles competitions, including Fresno City Champions in 1959 and Intermural Mixed Doubles at Stanford in 1962.

They represented Hanford as King and Queen in the 2009 Kings County Homecoming Parade, and Mr. Sharp was a member of the Hanford Rotary Club.

Sidney J.W. Sharp Jr.

--Date of birth: Oct. 27, 1934

--Date of death: June 28, 2014

--Occupation: Lawyer, real estate developer

--Survivors: Wife Janet; children Bill Sharp, Bob Sharp, Diane Sharp Johnson; nine grandchildren; one great-grandchild

--Services: 11 a.m. Thursday, Glad Tidings Church, 10th and Grangeville, Hanford.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6104, or @fb_LewGriswold on Twitter.


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Source: Fresno Bee, The (CA)

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