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1931 Robert Tharpe 2024

Robert Lewis Tharpe

May 10, 1931 — March 15, 2024


Harmony – Robert Lewis Tharpe, 92, at the stroke of midnight, Friday, March 15, 2024, my beloved Dad, Bob Tharpe exhaled from this life and inhaled into life eternal with his Savior, Jesus Christ.

Dad was born Robert Lewis Tharpe, May 10, 1931, the only son of the late Duke Tharpe and Sebia Ijames Tharpe.  Thirteen months later their family was complete as they welcomed baby sister, Minnie.  Dad and his sister, who folks often mistook for twins, graduated together from Harmony High School in 1951.  As a young man he enjoyed rolling skating, often through the streets of town, playing baseball and all kinds of cars, particularly his 40 Ford.  Dad joined the US Air Force (because the Navy Office was closed the day he went to enlist) and began a journey of service to his country that he thoroughly enjoyed.  During the Korean War he was stationed on the tropical island of Guam in the South Pacific.   He remembered clearly the planes landing on the island to refuel before continuing their flight missions in Korea.   Once he was stateside, he was stationed in Presque Isle, Maine where he made lifelong friends and came to love the snow.  He attained the rank of Staff Sargent and was a proud American veteran.   From his time in the Air Force, he developed a lifelong love of aircraft, and it never got too hot for Dad, nor was there ever enough snow or sno-cream.  Once back home in Harmony, he joined the Volunteer Fire Department, where he served for more than 30 years, the North Carolina National Guard, and later served in the US Army Reserve.  He was a gifted auto mechanic working at Scarborough Chevrolet, Square Deal Garage with his friend and mentor Cliff Stack, and retiring as parts department manager from Modern Chevrolet in Winston Salem.  After a year of “boring retirement” Dad went to work with Tyson Foods for another 10 years.  When he was finally ready to give up a full-time job, he enjoyed tinkering in his shop, riding the tractor, and his favorite pastime; mowing the yard in the hottest part of the day.  He loved people, kids and animals, was a compassionate, tenderhearted soul who would give you the shirt off his back.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his brother-in-law Roy C. Safley, and his great nephew Jonathan Safley.

Those left to cherish Bob’s memory include his daughter and son-in-law, Patti and Ken Gilreath, his sister Minnie T. Safley, granddaughter Kendra Myers, great-grandsons Gavin and Alex Myers, nephews, Jeff Safley, Greg (Debbie) Safley, niece Lynn (Barry) Riddle, Tracie Murphy, his great nieces and nephews who he loved dearly, Jeffrey, Sara and Hunter Safley, Jessica, Jalyn and baby on the way Safley, Jeanna Phelps, and Sophia Safley.  He is further survived by his lifelong friends, JoAnn Mills, Cathy Mills, Ed and Sharen Troutman and Wayne, Diane and Daniel Smith.

The family will greet friends from 2:00 to 3:00 pm on Sunday, March 17, 2024 at Harmony Methodist Church, 136 West Memorial Hwy, Harmony, NC.  A funeral service celebrating Bob’s life will be held at 3:00 pm Sunday, with his friends Pastor Chris Lakey and Pastor Chris Fitzgerald officiating.  Burial with military honors by the Yadkin VFW Post 10346 and US Air Force and the Harmony Volunteer Fire Department honor guard will conclude the services at Harmony City Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers the family humbly asks that you take your time to visit a homebound or assisted living resident.

Those wishing to make memorials are asked to consider: Harmony Methodist Church Children & Youth, 136 West Memorial Hwy, Harmony, NC  28634, or Rosewood Assisted Living Resident Fun-Fund, 3134 Harmony Hwy, Harmony, NC   28634, or Hospice of Iredell County, 2347 Simonton Road, Statesville, NC  28625.

Bob’s family extends humble gratitude to “the girls” at Rosewood who cared for him like he was their own father and to the nurses, CNA’s and social worker at Hospice of Iredell County for the expertise and guidance.   Thank you will never be enough!   Gentry Family Funeral Service in Yadkinville is serving the Tharpe family.  Online condolences can be made at



Service Schedule

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Sunday, March 17, 2024

2:00 - 3:00 pm (Eastern time)

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Funeral Service

Sunday, March 17, 2024

Starts at 3:00 pm (Eastern time)

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