December 7, 1957 – August 13, 2023
Frederick Kingsley Sharpless (“Rick”) passed away in his home on August 13, 2023, at the age of 65 after a valiant three-year fight against pancreatic cancer. Rick was born on December 7, 1957, in Lower Merion Township, Pennsylvania, to Eric and Priscilla Sharpless. He grew up in Wayne, Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia, with his younger siblings, Carolyn and Gordon. He attended Conestoga High School and graduated with the Class of 1979 from Dartmouth College where he was a Rufus Choate Scholar. He then worked as an ASE-certified mechanic before entering the University of North Carolina School of Law. There he was an editor of the North Carolina Law Review and was inducted as a member of the Order of the Coif before graduating with high honors in 1984, as second in his class.
Following graduation, Rick took an associate position with the firm of Tuggle Duggins in Greensboro. From 1990 to 2022, Rick was a founder then President of a boutique litigation specialty law firm before transitioning to practicing independently, which he continued until the time of his death.
Rick held a deep passion for litigation. He wrote numerous appellate briefs and, as first chair attorney, tried over sixty jury trials. He appeared before the Supreme Court of North Carolina, the North Carolina Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court of South Carolina, the South Carolina Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court of Alabama, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. He was admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States. Rick especially loved mentoring others and engaging with the broader legal community. He was a devoted member of the Dartmouth Lawyers Association (DLA), which he served as a member of the board of directors for over fifteen years and as President. He was also an active member of the North Carolina State Bar, the American Bar Association, the North Carolina Bar Association, the Greensboro Bar Association, and the Defense Research Institute.
Rick actively pursued knowledge of the law, rhetoric, debate, literature, mathematics, physics, mechanics, philosophy, and history; he reveled in an intellectual conversation on any topic. He had a passion for working on automobiles, and applied his mechanical skills to repairing and restoring farm equipment, home appliances, and vintage automobiles. An avid outdoorsman, adventurer and explorer, Rick attained the rank of Eagle Scout, and later in life enjoyed numerous wilderness and mountain trips with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). He enjoyed mountain climbing, lengthy mountainous bicycle races, sailing, canoeing, and running marathons on roads and trails, including the New York City Marathon with both of his daughters, in 2011. With his wife, family and friends, he visited four continents, innumerable mountain ranges, and lakes and oceans.
Rick is survived by his wife, Nancy Bonar Sharpless of Greensboro; his daughters, Jessica Sharpless Hastings (Victor Colborn) and Holly Sharpless Grossman (Max); his sister Carolyn Sampson (Bernard) and brother, Gordon Sharpless (Ketsara), and their families.