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Ed Sharpe to make another trip to Germany for 80th birthday

When Oxford resident Ed Sharpe celebrates his 80th birthday, he will spend April 5 in Berlin.

It’s a country he’s visited more than 20 times since leading an Oxford High School student group there in the 1990s.

Sharpe grew up in Memphis and led a mischievous childhood.

“Even when I was 5, this friend of mine, Kenneth, and I raked a pile of leaves up under the church and set it on fire,” he said. “If someone hadn’t come along, we would have burned the church down.”

In the 1950s, Sharpe began to think about college and initially planned to follow his sister to the University of Tennessee. However, he wasn’t impressed with the campus.

“I was accepted,” he said. “I went there, and it was the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen. … It was just ugly, and it was so far.”

Instead, he took a road trip with his friend, Kenneth — the same Kenneth who helped him set fire to the pile of leaves under the church — and wound up in Oxford.

“His grandparents were from here,” Sharpe said. “He was coming down to see his grandfather.”

Sharpe enrolled at the University of Mississippi in 1954 and studied education. He taught school for 40 years.

Sharpe later lived in DeSoto County and taught at Whitehaven school.

“They paid more in Tennessee,” he said. “When I retired, I came here and taught at Oxford High School. I drew a Tennessee pension. When a job opened in Oxford, I jumped at it.”

While teaching in Oxford, Sharpe helped lead a group of students on a trip to Germany in 1995. He later hosted German foreign exchange students in Oxford.

He has traveled to Germany more than 20 times now.

“I have good friends there,” he said. “I try to go every year. Last year, I didn’t go. But some years, I have gone twice.”

Sharpe said he plans to visit the Harz Mountains this time.

“They are little mountains,” he said. “About 4,000 feet is biggest. The highest one has a train that goes up there. We will take that up there.”

About LaReeca Rucker

LaReeca Rucker is a writer, reporter and adjunct journalism instructor at the University of Mississippi's Meek School of Journalism and New Media.

A veteran journalist with more than 20 years of experience, she spent a decade at the Gannett-owned Clarion-Ledger - Mississippi's largest daily newspaper - covering stories about crime, city government, civil rights, social justice, religion, art, culture and entertainment for the paper's print and web editions. She was also a USA Today contributor.

This year, she received a first place award from the Mississippi Press Association for “Best In-Depth Investigative Reporting.” The story written in 2014 for The Oxford Eagle chronicles the life of a young mother with two sons who have epilepsy, and details how she is patiently hoping legalized cannabis oil experimentation will lead to a cure for their disorder.

Her website is www.lareecarucker.com.

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