The accolades started when Philip Sharp turned 101, and they haven't stopped for the lifetime member of Washington-St. Tammany Electric Cooperative.
Eight years ago at an annual meeting, the
Franklinton, Louisiana, co-op recognized Sharp as its oldest member. "I've been a member of WSTE all my life, and I think they do a great job," Sharp is quoted as saying in a 2011 issue of
The 2011 meeting is part of Sharp's 10-year streak, which began in 2008. He's driven himself to each meeting in his Ford pickup—except for this year when his truck was in the shop. Instead, he caught a ride with his 80-year-old daughter, Shirley McClain.
"There's another member, who fought in World War II, who also comes to every annual meeting and he's 98. But he always gets beaten out for the 'oldest member in attendance' award by Mr. Sharp," said Billy Gibson, director of communications at the
Association of Louisiana Electric Cooperatives in Baton Rouge.
"It's almost like a 'Seinfeld' episode," Gibson added.
Born Dec. 21, 1909, in St. Tammany Parish, Sharp is the last of 10 siblings still alive. He's worked the land most of his life, as a trapper and cattle herder. Today, he lives near Covington with McClain, his only child, and his son-in-law, George.
The first time electricity came to the family farm shortly after WSTE formed in 1938 is a fond memory.
"It was a good feeling to have it," said Sharp. "We had one light bulb hanging from the ceiling but we could see a lot better than with the kerosene lamp."
Two years ago, the City of Covington named Sharp, then 103, its "most senior citizen" and gave him a spot on a parade float commemorating its bicentennial.
During Mardi Gras this past February, Sharp was crowned 2018 Krewe of Lee Road King by Lee Road Junior High School, also in Covington. He took his duties seriously, throwing beads, sporting a paper crown and riding shotgun in a golf cart.
Does the public attention ever wear thin? Never, said Sharp. In fact, he enjoys it, adding "it's not like I can do anything about it, anyway."