Tampa Epoch Will Carry On After Publisher's Death, Staffer Says
Brooks Morgan, chief marketing consultant for Tampa Marketing Company that publishes the Tampa Epoch, said that the company will seek out financial alternatives in order to carry on Bill Sharpe’s legacy.
The news that South Tampa publisher Bill Sharpe allegedly took his own life came as a shock to those who knew him.
Sharpe was found dead by an employee at his office in North Hyde Park on Monday, April 2. He was 59.
Sharpe was the publisher of South Tampa Community News. Last November, he started the Tampa Epoch, a street newspaper for the homeless, in order to give indigent people a source of income after the city passed an ordinance banning panhandling six days a week.
“If I get six people off the street, we are successful," Sharpe had said during the launching of the street newspaper that focuses on homelessness and poverty.
The Epoch sells for $1 per copy, and vendors keep 75 cents from each sale.
On Tuesday, April 3, paper hawker Chris Quarles stood at the intersection of Howard Avenue and Kennedy Boulevard holding copies of the Epoch.
Quarles said that Sharpe’s death came as a shock to him.
“Every time I saw him, he seemed like a happy guy,” he said. “He was a good person, he helped the homeless, and he did a lot more than our politicians do for the homeless people.”
Quarles hopes to continue selling the Epoch but he is not sure about the future of the street newspaper.
“We just have to wait and see,” he said.
Brooks Morgan, chief marketing consultant for Tampa Marketing Company that publishes the Epoch, said that the company will seek out financial alternatives in order to carry on Sharpe’s legacy and honor his wishes to help those in need.
“We are going to carry on with the Tampa Epoch,” he said. “We have over 300 vendors who depend on it to survive.”
Vicky Walker, who is the minister of Missions and Outreach at Hyde Park United Methodist Church, met Sharpe last August, and said that Sharpe was an inspiration.
Sharpe recruited many Epoch vendors through the church’s Open Arms Ministry program for needy folks.
“He was trying to find a way to support homeless people so that they could become more sufficient,” Walker said. “He wanted for people to earn a living.”
Folks in the community have been posting messages on Sharpe’s Facebook page.
Vickie Pollyea wrote: “Tampa lost a real leader, free thinker and many of us have lost a special friend.”
And Jon Curto said: “Shame to lose a good person trying to do so much good. He was there for others, yet he evidently didn't let anyone be there for him when so many would have. A huge loss. He will be missed “
Arrangements for a funeral or memorial service have not been disclosed yet.