Bob Sharrard, who was hired as a bookseller at City Lights, San Francisco, Calif., in 1977 and stayed for a 40-year career, ultimately becoming a senior editor and rights manager for City Lights Publishers, died April 23. He was 69. Sharrard retired in 2017 and lived in his longtime North Beach apartment until his passing. In a tribute, several City Lights staff members shared memories of their friend and colleague, including:
Nancy J. Peters: "Bob loved to walk the streets of the city, observing people and places with a wry eye. He was a charming San Francisco flaneur. He always had amusing stories to share about the lives of writers (both living and dead), and about people he knew in the city and those met on his travels. Bob was astute about politics and international affairs, but his great love was literature. He read avidly and as an editor he brought a number of fine writers to City Lights Publishers--among them, Jaime Gil de Biedma, Mohammed Mrabet, Janice Eidus, Rebecca Brown, Nathaniel Mackey, James Purdy, and many more."
Amy Scholder: "I remember working alongside Bob in the City Lights publishing offices when we were located just up the spiral stairs above the entrance to the bookshop. We would read manuscripts and smoke cigarettes at our adjacent desks until it was a reasonable time (4 p.m.?) to move over to Vesuvio's across the alley for a chat and the first drink of the day. He was so pleased to have another queer person on staff, and enjoyed regaling me with stories of his travels to gay enclaves around the world. Though we differed in our approach to work and life in most ways, we did see in one another a shared love for beauty and literature from underrepresented communities."
Andy Bellows: "One of the things I remember most about Bob was his generosity. He was always quick to loan me the latest CD collection he had just gotten (which was often) or some hard-to-find book we had been talking about. Even after Bob retired, I would get the occasional e-mail from him letting me know about some, usually obscure, collection of recordings being released or a link to a New York Times article, which was most often about surfing (something Bob knew I am passionate about)."
Elaine Katzenberger: "Bob welcomed me to City Lights when I first started working at the bookstore back in 1987, taking time to walk me up to the Caffé Puccini for coffee, commiserating about mutual interests, and generally being his friendly, affable self. At that point, he was still pulling regular shifts at the front counter, and Bob was a wry presence wreathed in smoke, jousting with Scott, Richie and Paul, colleagues he worked with for years. Bob was incredibly erudite, an insatiable consumer of books, movies, and music. He was an adventurer who loved to travel, and his devil-may-care attitude seemed to protect him wherever he went. I was always impressed by Bob's generosity to the people he'd meet on his travels, and on his regular journeys throughout the City, too. Bob knew how to enjoy life and live well. He was a survivor, a savvy, funny, and complex man--incredibly self-revealing at times, but also intensely private. I won't forget his laugh, and I'll miss his easygoing grin."
Greg Ruggiero: "Bob was a wellspring of knowledge on literature in general and City Lights in particular. Among his many contributions, Bob brought important gay titles to City Lights readers. As I work remotely, I only met him in person in San Francisco a few times. On one such occasion, he took me to a Mission District drag bar, where he introduced me to his large circle of compadres who affectionately called him güerito. He was a free spirit, storyteller, explorer, rebel, editor, and cherished friend to many."