Loving husband and father, loyal friend, and respected counselor, Ira Howard Sharp passed away June 10, 2023 from lung disease following a brief illness. He had recently celebrated his 80th birthday and 55th wedding anniversary.
Ira was filled with creative intelligence, personal integrity, and a passion for public service that made him a trusted partner to everyone from California Gov. Gavin Newsom and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond to San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria and City Attorney Mara Elliott. Ira worked with all leaders to help end gun violence – making connections that led to the end of gun sales on state fairgrounds, a ban on ghost gun sales, and a statewide education campaign to protect families from firearm deaths.
As with everything Ira did, family was at the center of his work. After the birth of his grandson and the Parkland mass shooting, he co-founded NeverAgainCA with his wife, Rose Ann. Nothing was more important to Ira than providing a better life for his family, and nothing gave him more joy than bike rides with his grandson and creating a beautiful garden for his wife. He believed in the potential of everyone around him and supported them endlessly to help them succeed.
Born on June 5, 1943 in St. Louis, Missouri, Ira displayed the traits that would make him an influence for good in the world starting at a young age. He worked Saturdays in the family hardware store, Central Hardware, and developed a quick sense of humor around the dinner table with his large Jewish family. Teachers praised his endless curiosity and intelligence. Friends appreciated his integrity and understanding, and they frequently turned to him for advice starting as early as 7th grade. Coming of age in the 1960s, Ira also developed a lifelong commitment to public service.
Attending Washington University in St. Louis from 1961-1965, Ira was elected student body president and became a leader in the national student movement. He helped organize sit-ins at segregated restaurants and demonstrations. He met President Kennedy, Sargent Shriver, and student leaders from around the world, many of whom became lifelong friends. Most importantly, he met his future wife, Rose Ann Alderson, a student leader at nearby Maryville College. They were married in 1967.
In 1968, Ira earned a law degree from Columbia University School of Law in New York and returned home to join the St. Louis law firm of Armstrong Teasdale. Ira practiced corporate and real estate law, becoming the youngest attorney to make partner at the firm.
In 1977, Ira and Rose Ann returned to her home of Washington, DC to take over the struggling family legal services business. Together, they helped turn Alderson Reporting into an industry leader in litigation support services and court reporting. Clients included the U.S. Supreme Court, all major Senate committees and many major law firms with international offices. Ira served as Alderson CEO and General Counsel. The firm was acquired by a Fortune 1000 company in 2004.
Retiring to Naples, Florida, Ira continued his passion for public service, becoming President of the Collier County Democrats and a member of the state party central committee and steering committee during the crucial election of 2008. He expanded his community-building work when he and Rose Ann decided to move full-time to Del Mar, California, in 2013, renovating a small vacation home they originally purchased in 1996.
Ira was appointed to and became a leader on the San Diego County Civil Service Commission, the administrative appeals body for personnel matters related to the County of San Diego’s more than 20,000 employees. He also played a leadership role in the Del Mar Foundation, the Rancho Santa Fe Democratic Club, several Del Mar City Council committees and the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee on school district construction spending.
Most of all, Ira became a strategic leader in the fight against gun violence through legislation, education and collaboration. Elected to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence national board in 2021, he also worked closely with the California Firearms Strategy Group, Moms Demand Action, and Giffords Law Center. A major achievement was the passage of AB 893 banning the sale of firearms and ammunition on state fairground property.
Ira was proudest of his work to bring together elected officials and gun violence prevention groups to create the SafeStorageCA project in 2019. Ira successfully lobbied the State Superintendent of Instruction to send letters to every public school district, emphasizing the importance of Safe Storage information being sent home to parents and guardians. He understood the important role this information could play in preventing accidental deaths and suicides. Thanks to his efforts, the requirement for school districts to send this information home is now enshrined in State law.
Ira is survived by his wife, Rose Ann Alderson; son, Andrew Sharp, daughter-in-law, Carine Harambillet Sharp and grandson, Samuel Sharp, of San Diego; his daughter, Elizabeth Sharp of Massachusetts; his sisters, Jacqueline Schroeder (St. Louis), Barbara Jensen (Boca Raton) and Sally Harman (Charleston) and their families. He was preceded in death by his parents Mickey and Cecile Sharp.
Seeing the goodness in everyone, making connections to help others succeed, acting always with compassion, integrity, curiosity and a generous sense of humor, these are the values that defined Ira. We will celebrate his goodness at an upcoming event. In the meantime, please do not send flowers. Anyone who is able to donate should give to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence online at bradyunited.org/donate, and everyone should do something to increase the amount of goodness in the world. You can send remembrances to: email@example.com.
Remembrance provided by Andrew Sharp.