The Boulder County coroner on Friday identified 69-year-old Robert Sharpe as the person whose partial remains were discovered this week during a search for two people missing and feared dead in the wake of the Marshall fire.
Investigators this week found human remains in the 5900 block of Marshall Road, and “DNA analysis and scene circumstances” led the coroner to identify Sharpe as the deceased individual, the coroner’s office said in a news release.
The cause and manner of death have not yet been officially determined, the coroner’s office said.
Sharpe owned a house at 5941 Marshall Drive, county property records show. That house was listed as “destroyed” in a preliminary list of damaged and destroyed properties released by the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office two days after the fire.
One other person is still considered missing as authorities continue to wade through the wreckage. Friends and relatives have publicly identified her as Nadine Turnbull, 91, an Original Town Superior resident whose home also was destroyed in Dec. 30 wildfire.
Sharpe’s family, in a statement released through Boulder County’s Office of Emergency Management, said it is “grateful for the outpouring of support as we try to cope with the loss of our family member. Robert will be greatly missed by his family and friends.”
A longtime Boulder resident, Sharpe was active in community affairs, the family said in the statement. He worked in construction, considered himself a naturalist, and was concerned with children’s rights. He’s survived by three brothers, a sister and many nieces and nephews, the family said.
“The total devastation of this event has shocked and impacted so many in the community,” Sharpe’s family said. “Our hearts go out to the many others who have suffered losses.”
Renee Fajardo first met Sharpe some 25 years ago when her kids were in Odyssey of the Mind, a problem-solving program for students. Sharpe didn’t have his own children, but he helped coach the teams, teaching kids about plants, water and conservation.
Sharpe wasn’t married, didn’t have his own family, but “it’s almost like he was married to the land,” Fajardo said. “That was his significant other.”
Sharpe was fiercely protective of his land and his lifestyle, Fajardo said. And he knew everything about that canyon — the mining history, the geography.
“It was a living, breathing historic entity to him,” Fajardo said.
Sharpe was a jack-of-all trades, she said, making his living doing odd jobs, fixing people’s things. His property was filled with parts and pieces collected over the years. He maintained a sweat lodge in the back.
“He’s something of a throwback from a past era,” Fajardo said.
She hasn’t spoken to Sharpe in eight years, but the two were part of the different indigenous prayer groups.
Their work together through Odyssey of the Mind helped inspire Fajardo to launch a career in indigenous studies, she said. She’s currently the coordinator for the “Journey Through Our Heritage” program at Metropolitan State University of Denver, which takes students to the San Luis Valley and New Mexico to learn about their history, culture and ancestors.
“We’re woven into this big tapestry with each other,” Fajardo said. “When one thread starts, you can’t tell, but you step back after 30 years and realize that we wove this beautiful tapestry together.”
Sharpe’s family requested that anyone interested in making donations in his honor can do so with the Boulder County Wildfire Fund.
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