Remembering Sharon Commander, Master Gardener, Extraordinary
Compiled by Shirley W. with comments from Susan M., Joan W., Valerie P., Janet M., and Mark C.
On May 23, we lost a Master Gardener, Sharon, one of the strongest advocates of the Master Gardener program and the State and Jefferson County Foundation. She was quoted in a 2007 Master Gardener magazine saying “Master Gardeners are the best people on earth”. The magazine relates her qualifications by bringing light to the career Sharon had in adult training, including teaching at Idaho State University and Project Manager for Environment, Safety and Health Training at Bechtel Nevada.
Sharon was a person that never met an obstacle she wouldn’t take on and do her very best. She served in many roles and on many committees from 1998 to 2014, and was noted for her strong leadership skills. She served as Jefferson County Foundation president 1998 and 1999. Chairing the popular yearly Jefferson community educational series Yard and Garden in its early years, she expanded the program into a larger community venue. She served on the Jefferson County Foundation board and the Washington state Master Gardener Foundation board. Sharon organized the state conference in Jefferson County at Ft. Worden in 2003 and 2007.
I completed Master Gardener training in 2003 and Sharon’s spirit and drive for the program was inspiring. Her leadership for the 2003 state conference at Ft Worden that fall had her facing many obstacles. The planning for the conference and the needed buildings took place well in advance, however; due to delays, the large building for the main meeting was not completed. I remember Sharon as the driving force to make sure that, come hell or high water, the space issues would be solved. The money we earned from that conference as well as other fund raising projects she also had a hand in resulted in a reserve that has allowed us to initiate a Grants program to give back $40,000.00 to the community for worthy horticultural and gardening projects. She was an active member of that committee.
I most admired Sharon for her care and devotion to her husband Bob. Bob was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and, despite his limitations, he also helped with the 2003 conference. As his health failed with no ability to talk and difficulty with eating and walking, Sharon was there for him. She was able to coordinate arrangements, enabling them to go on cruises and trips even when her own health was somewhat of an obstacle. Her limited health didn’t stop her from organizing the 2013 Christmas party. Sharon didn’t slow down from being active for the Boeing Bluebills with their work on the Dove House, nor from participating in the grants committee meeting up until early May this year.
|May Sharon’s life and spirit be an inspiration to us as Master Gardeners and the obstacles we face in life.|