Ex-Glenwood coach remembered as beloved mentor

The Sharpe family of Smiths Station, from left, Chandler, Cassidy, Lee and Flint. Cassidy won the Miss Alabama Jr. Teen title in 2014.
The Sharpe family of Smiths Station, from left, Chandler, Cassidy, Lee and Flint. Cassidy won the Miss Alabama Jr. Teen title in 2014.

The local community lost a beloved mentor when Flint Sharpe died.

Sharpe, 55, of Smiths Station, was killed in a car crash Monday in Columbus. Folks who knew him well recalled the positive impact he made through coaching several sports at Glenwood School in the late 1980s and early 1990s and youth basketball at Golden Acres Baptist Church in Phenix City.

His lone season as Glenwood’s head football coach was 1990, when the Gators went 11-2 and reached the Alabama Independent School Association Class AAA state championship game before losing 41-35 to Patrician Academy. But he is remembered more for the uplifting influence he had on his players.

“He taught people more about life than the sport,” said Glenwood headmaster Frankie Mitchum. “… He was just one of those good community people, always willing to help out. He’s going to be greatly missed. All we can do is pray for the family.”

According to Sharpe’s friends and his Facebook page, family members include his wife, the former Lee Pope, whose family runs Pope’s Haunted Farm during Halloween season, son Chandler, a Glenwood graduate, and daughter Cassidy, a Glenwood senior. Sharpe worked for US Foods as senior territory manager since 2013 and for Glover-Auten Foods as a sales manager from 1987 to 2013, both in Columbus.

Glenwood will bus the 66-student senior class to the Sharpe home Wednesday morning to visit the family and show their support, Mitchum said. The school’s football team also will show Cassidy support and honor Sharpe with decals on their helmets displaying their initials the rest of the season, he said.

This is the second violent death the Glenwood family is grieving this month. Justin Patrick “JP” Johanson, a Northside High School sophomore who was run over by a car while lying on a road in Columbus, attended Glenwood in the eighth grade, Mitchum said.

“It’s been tough,” he said.

Former Phenix City mayor and former Glenwood football coach Sammy Howard recalled the last time he spoke with Sharpe was at Friday’s football game.

“I never thought it would be my last conversation with Flint,” Howard said in a Facebook post.

Howard was Glenwood’s head football coach from 1973-78, compiling 59-13 record and the 1978 state championship. Sharpe played tight end on that title team.

“I can still see him running that drag pattern on a bootleg pass from Darryl Wilkes,” Howard said in the post. “Flint was not the best player that I coached but was certainly one of the best men.”

State Rep. Chris Blackshear, R-Phenix City, posted a similar sentiment on Facebook.

“We all have a handful of people outside of our immediate family that help shape and mold who we become as adults,” Blackshear said in the post. “For me, one of those individuals was Flint Sharpe. ‘Coach,’ as I still call him today, saw something in me at a young age that no one else did. He believed in my abilities and believed in me as a young man trying find my way through high school.

“It's unfortunate that I didn't get to tell him in person one more time how much I love and appreciate him for what he did in my life. When I would see him around town or at the gym he would always tell me how proud he was of me and that he loved me!

“Coach, I'm the lucky one and one final time I want to tell you ‘Thanks’ and ‘I love you!’ I'm a better man, father and husband because of you and the impact you had on my life.

“To Lee, thank you for sharing your husband with many young people in this community and to Chandler and Cassidy your dad was a special man who always put others first!

“If we had more Flint Sharpe's in this world what an amazing place it would be!”

Vance Memorial Chapel announced the funeral arrangements. Visitation will be Thursday, 5-8 p.m., in Golden Acres Baptist Church, 3405 S. Railroad St., Phenix City, where the funeral will be Friday at 11 a.m.