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Rancho Sahuarita founder Robert Sharpe succumbs to brain cancer

Robert (“Bobby”) Sharpe died Aug. 28, 2019, in Snowmass Village, Colorado, after a long battle with terminal brain cancer.

Born and raised in Minnesota, Sharpe’s career took him to the movie business in Los Angeles and the garment industry in Minnesota before he was drawn to Tucson, where he earned a law degree in 1982 from the University of Arizona. His vision to create the most affordable, lifestyle-oriented community in the country began in the early 1990s when he acquired the land that would one day become Rancho Sahuarita, a master planned community that has received both local and national accolades. Its tree-lined neighborhood streets with sidewalks were an innovative concept for Southern Arizona in the 1990s. Today, the still-growing community has more than 18,000 residents and 5,700 homes.

Sharpe was an active member of the Urban Land Institute for over 25 years. He served in many member leadership roles for the global organization, spoke on panels, and organized and funded research projects to further the dialogue about the challenges facing the industry.

“Bob’s journey through his illness was very much in line with the way he lived his life. Despite a difficult diagnosis — Bob’s optimism and “can do” attitude permeated his very being. Even his illness motivated him to do good — by being a force behind impactful research towards finding a cure,” says Stuart Mellan, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona. “I felt so blessed to have travelled to Israel with him, and was able get to know him both personally and through his support for our Federation. I can’t think of an interaction with Bob that wasn’t dominated by his smile, positive energy and kindness. It’s no wonder that his son Jeremy recently became the youngest member of the Federation board. Truly — to our great benefit — the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.”

After being diagnosed with glioblastoma in March 2015 at age 62, Sharpe devoted himself to the search for a cure, with hope for himself, but with greater hope for the future. He raised over one million dollars for brain cancer awareness and research. Through a partnership with the National Brain Tumor Society, the Sharpe Brain Cancer Research Awards have helped to fund top institutions throughout the county in their effort to provide better treatments for individuals with brain cancer that can quickly move to clinical trial phases.

Sharpe’s optimism was evident in his moto “Today is a Good Day.” He passed out over 10,000 “Today is a Good Day” stickers, established the Today is a Good Day Foundation and touched thousands of people through his story.

Survivors include his 101-year-old mother, Rose Jean Sharpe; his wife, Deborah; three children, Sarah, Jennifer and Jeremy, and their spouses, Rob Mugford (fiancé), Charlie Ridley and Alexis Sharpe; sisters, Vicki Bacal, Linda Sharpe, Margie Hayes, and Deborah Sharpe; and two grandsons.

Services and interment were held in Aspen, Colorado.
Memorial contributions may be made to the National Brain Tumor Society at or 55 Chapel Street, Suite 200, Newton MA, 02458.