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Longboat friend Sharon E. Oper passes

Sharon Oper, Lillian Sands and Jackie Salvino, long-time Longboat Key Garden Club members.

Sharon Elspeth Oper, born January 16, 1941, died June 2, 2017 in Longboat Key, Florida, her beloved home of the last 20+ years.  Sharon was born in New Jersey to the late Joseph Oper and Sally Hafkin Oper. Sharon died as she had lived, surrounded by loyal friends, many of whom shared her passion for international cultures and cuisines, tennis or her steadfast support for the Democratic Party.  Sharon loved to laugh and her enthusiasm for life was matched only by her ability to find humor in even the simplest moment.  Sharon was a member of Temple Beth Israel, and a former member of the synagogue in every country in which she lived throughout her career.

Sharon’s entry into public service began in the early 70’s when she was hired as an aide to Congresswoman Bella Abzug.  Sharon joined the Foreign Service a few years later and enjoyed foreign postings in Chile, Spain, Zaire, Pakistan,Thailand and Kenya.  In 1993-94, Sharon was selected as a member of the State Department “advance team” for Secretary of State Warren Christopher and was in and out of the Middle East a dozen times.  Four lifelong friendships were born of the intensity of those trips, and Sharon took great pride in watching as three of those colleagues rose to the role of Ambassador.

Seven years of living in Africa transformed her into an afficionado of African art and African grey parrots, one of whom – Two two – has survived her and has been lovingly adopted by local friends with an African grey of their own. Sharon loved animals including the hundreds of birds she photographed on the beach just near her home.

Sharon was active in many local organizations, including the tennis center, several book clubs and a mah-jongg group.  She excelled as a friend.  She listened well, and remembered the details.  She took your side and worried alongside you.  She will be sorely missed by many, particularly those who counted on her daily for a sympathetic ear, a discussion of current events or a laugh.

Sharon Oper, Teena Kantor, Janet Wilkins.

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