Aileen Lewis Sharpe died at the age of 95 in Wilmette, Ill., on Dec. 22, 2016. She was predeceased in 2000 by her adoring husband of 48 years, attorney Harold Sharpe. She was the beloved mother of Nancy Sharpe (Gerry Cabot), Emily Sharpe (Brian Roche), Amy Sharpe (Stephany Lyman) and Sam Sharpe (Ann Pearson-Sharpe), and the devoted “Amaw” to four grandchildren, Clara, Jacob, Andrew, and Leah Roche.
Family, friends and community were her guiding forces. When asked about the most important thing in life, she would always respond, “To love and be loved.” She embodied this phrase throughout her life.
Aileen was born in Memphis in 1921 to businessman and civic leader Julius Lewis and Lena Lewis. She grew up in a loving, nurturing family whose values she passed on to her own children. Aileen graduated with a business degree from Washington University in St. Louis. She then returned to Memphis and worked as a buyer in her father’s retail store.
In 1952, she married Harold Sharpe of Forrest City, and they embarked on their new life together. Aileen was active in many community services, including being a founding and longtime board member of East Arkansas Community College board of trustees, a member of the 1969 Bi-racial Council in Forrest City, both a local president and vice-president of the National Association of Junior Auxiliaries, a chair of the St. Francis County American Cancer Society, and a member of the board of commissioners of the Forrest City Civic Center.
Giving back to her community was of great importance to Aileen. As a certified braillist, for many years she transcribed books into braille for the blind. A lifelong member of Temple Israel synagogue in Memphis, she often visited local schools and churches to explain Judaism and its meaning.
Aileen’s family was the center of her life. Her home was filled with love and laughter from her children, their friends, and eventually her four grandchildren. She loved reading, cooking, watching Memphis Tigers basketball, and raising roses. In her seventies, she began to write children’s poems that were sold at a small bookshop in Memphis.
In 1992, Harold and Aileen moved to Memphis to be closer to their families. In 2013, she moved to Sunrise Senior Living in Wilmette, Ill., near her daughter Emily.
In addition to her children and grandchildren, Aileen had three loving siblings, the late Bobbie Brenner, Jack Lewis (Nicole) and Erma Cohen.
Funeral services are on Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2016, at Temple Israel Cemetery, located at 1708 Hernando Road in Memphis. In lieu of flowers, please make contributions to Cure Alzheimer’s Fund, 34 Washington St., Suite 200, Wellesley Hills, MA 02481, curealz.org.