In Memoriam: Arthur Sharkey, TA English and Drama Teacher (1981-2002)
October 27, 2022
Longtime Thetford Academy teacher, Art Sharkey passed away on October 14, 2022. Mr. Sharkey was perhaps best remembered at TA for his time as a drama teacher, where he shared his love for theater with infectious enthusiasm. Alumni fondly remember the “Shark Tank,” the black box theater he created in the school’s former agricultural garage. Several years ago, he wrote about that experience and shared his remembrances with us at TA. Below is the text from Mr. Sharkey’s obituary, submitted to Thetford Academy by his children, Adam Sharkey and Kate Schramm, both TA alumni.
Arthur Patrick Sharkey, Jr., 85, passed away on Friday, October 14, 2022 at Valley Terrace in White River Junction, VT. Art was born on October 9, 1937 in Philadelphia, PA, the oldest child of Arthur Sr. and Martha Sharkey. He and his siblings, Robert and Helen, grew up in South Philly and were active in their community and the Catholic church.
After high school, Art joined the Christian Brothers and attended LaSalle College. Though he eventually decided the religious life was not for him, he followed his passion for teaching for the rest of his career. After he left the Brothers, Art joined the Job Corps and was sent to South Dakota as a teacher for at-risk youth. From there he took a job with the US Department of Defense as a non-commissioned officer, teaching English literature to children of US military personnel in both Greece and England. It was during this time that he met a fellow English teacher, Dianne Nichols from Los Angeles, CA.
They returned to the States in 1969 and were married in 1970. The couple settled in Pittsburgh, PA and had two children: Katherine (Kate) in 1971 and Adam in 1974. Art earned his master’s degree in media studies at the University of Pittsburgh. The family moved next to Haverhill, MA where Art taught and Dianne stayed home with their young children. In the late 1970s, however, they decided to pursue a dream, a shared vision of running a New England bed-and-breakfast like those they’d loved in Europe.
In 1979 they bought the Stone House Inn in North Thetford, VT, and they spent the next 21 years running their business. Along with renting out the 6 guest rooms year-round, they also ran it as a restaurant in the evenings. Art was head chef while Dianne was baker and hostess, and the kids worked as prep cooks and dishwashers. In 1981 they closed the restaurant and focused on overnight guests only except during summers, where for many years they ran a program they created called “Canoeing Inn to Inn” where guests would canoe by day along the Connecticut River between inns that would host and feed them each night. The concept was innovative and popular, and was featured in an article in the New York Times.
Amongst all this, Art took on the additional job of high school English teacher at Thetford Academy in 1981. He became a fixture of the school, teaching 8th, 10th, and 11th grades. He focused on short stories, writing, and drama, imparting his love of all three to his students. Over time he developed a drama department, where his students performed plays in a black-box theater dubbed “The Shark Tank.” The Sharkeys closed the inn in 2000, and Art retired from teaching in 2002.
The next year Art and Dianne moved a few miles away to a small home on Godfrey Road. There they enjoyed retired life together until Dianne’s passing in 2017. Art’s favorite pastime in his retirement was writing his memoirs. He found great joy in documenting his past and reflecting on all the events of his life that shaped him, especially those he experienced as a child and young man. Art is survived by his children and their spouses, Kate (Steve) and Adam (Jill), and his grandchildren Maura, Ryan, Justin, and Ella. In lieu of flowers, donations to Thetford Academy would be appreciated. A short service to celebrate Art’s life will be held on Sunday, December 18 at 2:00 p.m. at the Thetford Hill Congregational Church.