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Walter M. Sharp, 89; Financial Consultant and Longtime Bank Executive

January 03, 2006|From a Times Staff Writer

Walter M. Sharp, a longtime banking official in Southern California and a consultant to financier Kirk Kerkorian, has died. He was 89.

Sharp died Dec. 22 at his home in Studio City, according to an announcement from MGM Mirage in Las Vegas, where he was a longtime board member.

No cause of death was announced, but Sharp had been in declining health with a series of illnesses.

In addition to serving as a consultant to Kerkorian's Los Angeles-based Tracinda Corp., Sharp served on the board of MGM when Kerkorian owned that company in the 1970s. He was a member of the MGM Mirage board from 1986 to 2002, when he was named director emeritus.

Sharp began his banking career with Bank of America in Los Angeles before World War II, operating an adding machine in the check clearinghouse.

He returned after the war and by 1956 had risen to the position of vice president of Bank of America's corporate finance department.

In 1964, Sharp was named the head of Bank of America's international banking division in Los Angeles. He was also a key figure in establishing the bank's direct leasing department.

A year later, he was named president and director of Community Bank, a position he held until his retirement in 1980.

Sharp then established his own consulting firm, Walter M. Sharp Co., focused on offering financial advice, primarily to independent community banks in California.

Sharp was born in Liberty, Mo., graduated from Liberty's William Jewell College in 1938 and was drafted into the Army after World War II began. He ultimately attained the rank of captain, and was awarded a Silver Star while commanding a company in Cebu in the Philippines in 1945.

Sharp's wife of 60 years, Katherine, died last year.

He is survived by his sons, Richard and Gregory, three grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held Thursday at the Old North Church at Forest Lawn-Hollywood Hills, 6300 Forest Lawn Drive, Los Angeles, followed by a reception at the Sheraton Universal in Universal City.

Instead of flowers, the family suggests that donations be made to Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank.

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