Perry Sharp was an active member of the Junction City community for 17 years before his death in February of 2009. He was heavily involved in Blue Jay athletics as his wife, Melissa, began her coaching career leading the Lady Jay basketball program in 1992. Throughout his time spent in Junction City, Perry worked as a Manufacturer’s Representative for sporting good companies, starting his own company in 2001. He was also a college basketball official and basketball commissioner for the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference, assigning officials for that league up until his passing.
Perry was born on June 22, 1962 in Ft. Smith, AR. After graduating from Northside High School in 1980, he went on to Westark Community College where he pursued his education and played basketball as well. He graduated from College of the Ozarks in 1984 and then began his life as a salesman. He began his career in insurance, worked in schools throughout Arkansas and Oklahoma as a Fundraising representative, and then pursued his sales career by representing various sporting good companies; both for other companies, and then for himself. All during this time, he continued to pursue his love of officiating basketball. He worked high school JV and Varsity games before moving on to college venues. He attended major officiating clinics across the country including such clinics as the NBA, SEC, Big 8, and the Missouri Valley. At the peak of his officiating career, he was invited multiple years to officiate the NAIA National Tournament.
During a Saturday March evening in 2005, Perry was once again officiating a college playoff game when he discovered a lump in his liver. Two days later, Perry was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia – Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia. He then received an Angel Flight to the Mayo Clinic. His life changed instantaneously. His four year battle with this dreaded disease displayed his amazing fight, spirit, determination, and sheer love of life. He underwent radiation and chemotherapy treatments, lived in Minnesota for an extended time to be close to his doctors, and eventually received a stem cell transplant to eradicate the cancer. Although Mr. Sharp would never again have cancer, the new stem cells raged a battle with the old cells in his lungs, which caused his death at the age of 46.
During his battle with cancer, Mr. Sharp would often speak to groups about living life to the fullest, using the phrase “priorities” each and every time. The priorities in his life included “family, friends and officiating.” He asked others to do the same; to reflect on the priorities we establish for ourselves each and every day – and to live our lives with these priorities in mind. He was able to communicate this hope to many people during the last years of his life. Officials Against Cancer hopes that his words will live on through this memorial scholarship – that young people from Perry Sharp’s home will understand the meaning of his words, establish their own priorities, pursue their dreams, and always live their life to the fullest.
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