From Peace Corps to Meadow Ridge: A Life of Service
Answering Kennedy’s Call
Over the past 60 years, more than 240,000 Peace Corps volunteers have served on missions to 142 countries with the goals of helping shape a better world, improve the image of America and bring back what they’ve learned overseas.
Dan Sharp, an 89-year-old Redding, CT, resident, is proud of the important role he had in setting the foundation of the Peace Corps.
Following military services and Harvard Law School, the California native found his calling when he heard presidential candidate John F. Kennedy announce his intention to form the Peace Corps while on the campaign trail. At the time, Sharp headed up Kennedy’s campaign speaker’s bureau in San Francisco.
“Before I knew it, I was working with Sargent Shriver to help draft the legislation that formed the Peace Corps, then was thrust into negotiating the organization’s first treaties,” said Dan. Shriver would go onto be the first director of the Peace Corps.
Dan traveled to Geneva, Montreal, Paris and Rome to negotiate treaties with United Nations agencies the World Health Organization, UNESCO, the International Civil Aviation Organization, Food and Agriculture Organization and the International Labour Organization. He did this before the age of 30.
From 1961–1968, Sharp served alongside Shriver, launching and running the Corps in Peru and Bolivia and creating their first-ever formalized training program for overseas staff and their families. He served on the senior leadership team that ran overseas operations and was the organization’s chief troubleshooter.
“I always had a bag packed and would fly on a moment’s notice to wherever in the world I was needed to arrange peaceful resolutions for often sticky situations,” said Dan.
Global Business Ventures
After eight years of service, Dan was recommended by Shriver’s successor to a presidential appointment as a senior Foreign Service Reserve Officer. However, they soon realized that they had overlooked a key part of the legislation that created the Peace Corps.
“To help ensure the organization didn’t become bureaucratic and to rotate the best and brightest people at the time, we had included a five-year staff term limit and my time was up,” said Dan.
So, using his Corps experience, Dan went on to fight another battle at the University of Chicago in 1968. Amidst widespread student demonstrations over inadequate housing and the termination of a popular professor, he helped found the Adlai Stevenson Institute of International Affairs.
Dan had reported to Stevenson, the influential lawyer, Democratic politician and diplomat, when Dan became a member of the UN Delegation headed by him.
Stevenson had been an insistent voice for disarmament and tackling world poverty, so the non-profit organization in his memory was dedicated to studying the social and political problems of the modern world.
After two years at the University of Chicago, Dan launched a successful business career, working worldwide for Xerox and ITT and many other global organizations. Later, he became CEO of President Eisenhower’s American Assembly at Columbia University, and later CEO of the Eisenhower Foundation.
Dan is especially proud of his work with Eisenhower and Stevenson, who were Republican and Democratic presidential opponents. He said he always worked throughout his life to seek common ground among contesting parties.
Planning for Retirement
In 2018, Dan and his wife, Revelle, Stamford, CT, residents for 40 years, decided it was time to slow down a little. Just like his professional life, Dan approached retirement with much planning.
“I realized that I was getting older, and I didn’t want to die and leave my wife with a great big house to sell. I knew we would need medical care as we got older. I wanted to lock in a secure future for both of us,” he said.
After considering other communities, the couple decided to move to Meadow Ridge, a Benchmark continuing care retirement community (CCRC) in Redding that offers Independent Living, Assisted Living, Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation all on one campus. There, the couple has done anything but “slow down.”
“In the first year, we made more friends here than we had in the previous 20 years combined. The best thing about Meadow Ridge is the people, from the other residents to the associates. They are really top-notch,” said Dan.
At Meadow Ridge, Dan serves on six resident committees, chairing three of them. He uses his vast business acumen to help enhance the community’s information technology and health services systems and facilitate an annual educational scholarship for its employees and their families.
Outside of Meadow Ridge, he serves on many boards and still actively works as a business consultant.
He believes that moving to Meadow Ridge was one of the best decisions he and his wife have made. “People should come here when they can be active like we are. There is so much to do here and be part of. I can’t imagine being happier anywhere else at this stage of my life,” said Dan.