Born in Minnesota on April 19, 1952, Bob Sharpe was delighted by building and creating from the start. He often reflected on his younger years playing with Lincoln Logs and Tinkertoys, all the while developing a keen sense of vision that would one day make him one of the country’s most successful developers.
He graduated from Arizona State University with a degree in English Education, and then earned his J.D. from James E. Rogers College of Law. After law school, Bob began his career as a land speculator. Since 1994, Bob was an active member of the Urban Land Institute and held many leadership positions within the Institute (including trustee, Program Committee member, chair of the Community Development Council, Terwilliger Center Board Member, and ULI Arizona Advisory Board Member.) He was also a Governor of the ULI Foundation. Deb Sydenham, Executive Director of ULI Arizona commented, “Bob Sharpe’s bright light will be missed, yet we will continue to be inspired by his indomitable spirit, his eternal optimism, and his kindness towards others.”
– A Vision –
In the 1990s, Bob began to develop neighborhoods in Southern Arizona with his signature tree-lined streets and sidewalks. He sought to build neighborhoods that families could call home. Bob founded the Rancho Resort community in 2000, and the Rancho Sahuarita community in 2001, which gave him the opportunity to create the same sense of home he created in his early neighborhoods on a far larger scale. While most people saw a desolate cotton farm, Bob saw a place where families could come together and experience a better quality of life at an affordable price. His dream would one day become Rancho Sahuarita.
Today, Rancho Sahuarita is a thriving master plan community, of more than 18,000 residents and 5,700 homes. Its residents have access to hundreds of events, community conveniences, and unparalleled amenities including resort-style Clubhouses, pools, a waterpark, and miles of walking trails. Now nearly 20 years after the first home closed, thousands of families call Rancho Sahuarita home.
Former Vice Mayor of Sahuarita, Marty Moreno, reflected back on her years knowing and working with Bob saying: “Mr. Sharpe was a true visionary, I remember we were standing on the deck of the waterpark discussing Sahuarita. It was at that moment his most honest intentions were evident. His eyes lit up like a 500-watt bulb when he talked about children growing up in neighborhoods with mini parks, soccer and baseball fields near their homes, and the pride of affordable homes for all. As I listened to him speak of families building foundations here, I came to respect his vision. His intentions were not about national awards or money but rather about creating a community that was unlike any other, in a town that I love. I will miss my friend, Bob Sharpe.”
– A Challenge and a Triumph–
Bob’s vision and dedication to making other people’s lives better did not end with the community he developed. After being diagnosed with glioblastoma in March of 2015, he was given only 15 months to live. Bob turned those 15 months into 4 and a half years by heroically battling the disease head on; with the same tenacity, persistence and determination that made Rancho Sahuarita possible.
Bob resolved to spend the time he had left to be positive and continue giving back to others. He made it his personal mission to help raise money and awareness for brain cancer research. There began the partnership with the National Brain Tumor Society.
Bob often spoke of the endeavor saying, “I realized that I had everything to gain by spending the remaining days of my life having an optimistic, positive and grateful attitude, being thoughtful and encouraging, and doing things that bring joy, happiness, and fulfillment to others. Improving the lives of others is inspirational and makes my life more productive and meaningful.”
With a personal motto that quickly became the rallying force behind Bob, as well as his family and friends, he moved through each day to the credo of “Today is a Good Day.” Though the odds against him seemed impossible to overcome, he approached each day with the gratitude of knowing he was blessed to have a new day; a day to help others, and a day to make a difference.
Even with his own health challenges, Bob continued raising funds for cancer research until his final days. Bob passed on Wednesday, August 28th, 2019, surrounded by his family and friends. Rancho Sahuarita is just over half complete, and Bob’s vision will guide the development into the future.