UAMS Receives $2 Million Gift from Sharpe Charitable Trust

By todd

LITTLE ROCK – After his wife Edna died of cancer in 1969, family and friends say Buren Sharpe wanted to support cancer research somehow. That’s why he designated a $2 million gift to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) from the Buren and Edna Sharpe Charitable Remainder Trust.


Sharpe, who died in 1986, was a longtime building contractor, civic leader and owner of Buren Sharpe Building Material Company in McGehee. His trust became payable to UAMS upon the 2006 death of his second wife, Mildred P. Sharpe, who had been a lifetime beneficiary.


“Buren Sharpe demonstrated a lifelong passion for helping others through his community work and business,” said UAMS Chancellor I. Dodd Wilson, M.D. “UAMS is grateful that that spirit can live on through this generous gift.”


Born in Drew County, Buren Sharpe moved to McGehee in 1924. From then until the mid 1960s, he designed and built dozens of homes around the McGehee area, many of which withstood a major flood in 1927 and some that are still in use today.


“He was a warm, deep-thinking man who was always glad to see you,” said John T. Clower of McGehee, Buren’s stepson, who was part owner of Sharpe Building Materials with Buren for many years. “Buren was one of those people whose advice was often sought on everything from construction to financial matters.”


Upon his retirement from the construction business, Sharpe started what would be a successful retail building materials company, which he operated until his death at 85. James M. Smith, president of  McGehee Bank, which served as the trustee for the Sharpe Trust, worked for the building materials business one summer when home from college in the 1970s.


“Buren was a very patient, fair, but stern man,” Smith said. “All he expected was an honest, hard-working effort with an eagerness to learn.


“In hindsight, these attributes had an invaluable impact while I was in my formative educational years, working part time and learning to deal with the general public.”


Smith would later find himself learning from Sharpe again as a young bank officer. Sharpe served as a director on the McGehee Bank board from 1963 until his death.


Sharpe was a past president of the McGehee Chamber of Commerce and past member of the McGehee Industrial Committee and the advisory committee of the McGehee Hospital Construction Planning Commission. He also was a deacon at First Baptist Church at McGehee.


“Everybody loved him,” said stepdaughter Mary Clower Jackson of Monticello, whose mother married Sharpe in 1970.


The Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute directs all cancer research at UAMS. Cancer Institute scientists are committed to reducing cancer incidence, mortality and morbidity in Arkansas and the surrounding region. The Cancer Institute is leading or participating in more than 160 clinical trials of potential cancer treatments.


The institute’s Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy is the world leader in the treatment of multiple myeloma, a cancer of the blood’s plasma, and has performed more than 7,000 transplants of blood stem cells as part of its treatment regime.


The Cancer Institute recently broke ground on a 12-floor, more than 300,000-square-foot expansion to its existing facility. The expansion, expected to open in 2010, will allow the institute to treat more patients and host more research into new treatments.


UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with five colleges, a graduate school, a medical center, six centers of excellence and a statewide network of regional centers. UAMS has 2,538 students and 733 medical residents. Its centers of excellence include the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy, the Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, the Psychiatric Research Institute and the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging. It is one of the state’s largest public employers with about 9,600 employees, including nearly 1,000 physicians who provide medical care to patients at UAMS, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and UAMS’ Area Health Education Centers throughout the state. UAMS and its affiliates have an economic impact in Arkansas of $5 billion a year. For more information, visit