View Full Version : Marjorie Sharpe (1917-2005)

October 15th, 2005, 12:42 PM
After suffering a stroke two months ago, Marjorie Sharpe passed away October 10th. She was 88. Marjorie was known for her love of life. She always had a smile on her face and a gleam in her eye. At the time of her death, Marjorie held six national records in the backstroke.

Marjorie would always tell the deck officials that she appreciated the work that they did. She made everyone feel important. She will be missed.


From her team mates at Stanford Masters:

Tim Edmonds, Coach of Stanford Masters

It is with a sad heart that I write to tell you that Marjorie Sharpe passed away yesterday morning. Marjorie suffered a stroke about two months ago and was able to have some nice moments with friends following the stroke. Her last days were quiet and peaceful.

Marjorie was, without doubt, one of the most vibrant and wonderful individuals whom it has ever been my pleasure to know. She had two great loves in her life, her husband Al, who passed away nearly 9 years ago, and the water. On too many mornings to count you could find Marjorie seeking the perfect backstroke, the perfect flip turn, or the elusive perfect freestyle in her lane. Always there to share a tidbit of advice with a new swimmer or share a story about her travels with Al she was a wonderful ambassador of Swimming and a true reminder of what it can mean to have a long very full life. Swimming well into her 88th year kept her young and gave her a fulfillment that she could never quite put into the right words. She would never argue about being called a "kept woman", constantly seeking the warm embrace and the support of the chlorinated water of the Stanford pools.

You will be missed my "sweetheart"......our pools will be a little less full without you in them.

A memorial service will be planned in the near future and I'll send out details when they are available. Please feel free to email me or use the Masters Misc. list to share memories or stories about Marjorie. I would love to hear them....more now than ever. Warmly....Tim

Whenever the alarm goes off at 4:50am on a winter morning, and the rain is pounding my roof, I always ponder the thought of skipping morning Masters swimming. Then, without exception, I would think about Marjorie, walking so tentatively down the pool stairs with both crutches, saying hello to everyone, and absorbing the rain as if it were a petty nuisance.

She has always been my inspiration for putting up with the little annoyance of swim practice. She would muscle through anything in life, and make tons of friends along the way. My understanding is that at Ocean competition swims, someone just carries Marjorie out beyond the waves and tosses her in for the start of another great swim.

She was an angel, and God is probably thrilled to have her swimming on the Master's Team up top.

Brian Avery


One of my fondest memories of Marjorie was early in the fall of my freshman year at Stanford. It was 6:50 in the morning and because Marjorie was also an "honorary member" of the varsity team, she often shared our locker room. We were all getting changed after cycling, and I remember being shocked that she had already been in the water for an hour and a half (here I was thinking we were the tough ones!). She was tying her Keds over her swimming socks, and during our conversation I asked her how swimming was going. She lit up and said she was so excited because it was her birthday and she was "aging up" and was ready to break all the world records for the 85+ group. We laughed and I wished her luck, and sure enough, the next week she reported back that she had done just that. Every day Marjorie amazed me with her smiles and motivation. That tiny body housed one of the biggest hearts I have ever known.

Tinley Bick

Majorie was a regular entrant at open water events all over northern California. I saw her time and time again, usually with Al when he was alive. I'll always remember the Whiskeytown Lake swim one year, which offered both the 1-mile and 3-mile events. Whiskeytown is up by Redding, and Majorie wasn't about to waste a four hour drive each way by entering only one event, so she swam both!

She could barely walk on land, but was she a terror in the water! Quite an inspiration, and always ready with a smile and a compliment!

Jim Merchant

I knew right away the first time I met Marjorie that she was a very special and inspirational person. That was nearly a decade ago -- it was after workout in the women‚s locker room at Stanford. Marjorie was dripping wet, smiling and making some sort of comment about her time for a swimming event. Being impressed that this older lady was still competing, let alone swimming masters workouts at Stanford, I asked her when she started competitive swimming, assuming she had been competing most of her life. „Oh no!‰ she said, „I only started competing in my 70s. That made a huge impression on me. Now I think of Marjorie every time I think I‚m too old to take on something physically challenging or new. I thought of her when I finally decided to learn how to do flip turns in my late 40s I sucked so much water up my nose those first few months, but stuck to it and succeeded knowing there are people like Marjorie in the world.

Another incident I‚ll never forgot and speaks to the strength, humor and joy of life that Marjorie had. It was at PMS Short Course Yards Championships in Santa Cruz a couple of years ago. Marjorie had slipped off the blocks during her dive on an early event and scraped the skin off one of her shins. That didn‚t stop her from swimming her other events that day. One of the meet officials had taped-up her wound and she proceeded to swim her next event. Apparently the tape started to unwind during her swim and by the end she was dragging a long tail of bandage through the water. She finished her swim fine, but was having a hard time untangling the mess and getting herself out of the lane, so I helped her out. I was amazed when I saw the bandage and bleeding wound she was swimming with, but she told me what happened, just shook her head and said chuckling „That if you live long enough everything is bound to happen to you!‰

What a wonderful lady! I will miss seeing her at meets and will think of her often.
-Lisa Ryner

I first met Marjorie when I first started swimming Masters in the early 90's with the Peninsula Covenant Community Center Masters. Back then Marjorie was using a walker. But, as time went by she gave up the walker and started using a cane. It was as if the more she swam the younger she became. It has been a privilege to swim Masters with Marjorie. I don't know anyone else who managed to break so many Masters records as she was able to do. She knew all of her competition by name. And she knew what she had to do to win. She just kept showing up and winning. Here's one for a wonderful person and a great Masters swimmer.

Ken Merritt

October 16th, 2005, 03:14 PM
I saw this in the PacMasters update the other day and was touched by some of the stories posted about this woman. I never knew her but it sounds like she was the type of person that swimmers of all ages could learn a thing or two from.

October 16th, 2005, 09:13 PM
Well said Matt! I did not know Marjorie either but than again maybe I do in the likes of Woody Bowersock ( age 92) and Maurine Kornfeld ( 80?) and others, some of whom set records and some of whom don't. Their zest for life is an inspiration to me . They exemplify what Masters Swimming is all about!

Thank you Marjorie.:)

jean sterling
October 17th, 2005, 09:05 PM
Marjorie sounds like a true inspiration. I hope I'm like her when I get to my 80s. :-)

October 19th, 2005, 03:12 PM
I am saddened today to hear of the passing of my dear friend Marjorie. Those of us who knew her, will remember her as a true inspiration. I used to tell her that she was an inspiration to me, and she always said the same thing, "It is you all who are an inspiration to me."
I moved from California many years ago, but kept in close touch with my friend. I was visiting in July and was able to swim with her early one morning, and then she joined my family and me for breakfast. I will remember her fondly and often, as I am sure all of us will who knew her. Rest in peace, and say hi to Al.
Meg White