top of page

Ed and Sharon Underhill

1-2017 Sharon & Ed-5-.jpg

Edward William Underhill was born in Stamford, Connecticut, on September 22, 1944.

His brother was born three years later, and they grew up together in New Jersey. Their father was an expert in magnet design and the plant manager at a steel factory. Their mother worked as a registered nurse but retired when they got married to stay home and raise the two boys. The Underhill family lived in Pines Lake, New Jersey, where Ed enjoyed swimming, ice skating, baseball, basketball, and football. He was a Boy Scout and earned the rank of Eagle Scout as well as the God and Country Award. Every Sunday after church, he and his friends raced fourteen-foot cat rigged sailboats called Dusters. Ed’s boat was called the Fast Eddy, and he and his dad built it themselves. In high school, Ed was a good student and athlete, lettering in track and cross country. He was accepted into Columbia University’s School of Engineering, where his father and grandfather had both earned master’s degrees in electrical engineering. Ed was a member of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity and was on the varsity swim team. During his junior year at Columbia, Ed’s parents moved to Doe Valley Lake, Kentucky, and that summer he took some classes in Louisville. His mother encouraged him to contact a neighbor, who worked in Louisville, about carpooling. Ed stopped by their house

one evening, and the neighbor insisted that Ed meet his daughter, Sharon.

Sharon Lyn Donelson was born in Great Bend, Kansas, on April 19, 1944. Her mother

and father met at Boeing, where her mother was head of a secretarial pool, and her father was in management. Her parents divorced in 1946, so she never knew her biological father.  In 1948, her mother married a former classmate who was a captain in the military. He adopted Sharon, and she was raised as an army brat. While her father

was stationed in Korea, Sharon, her mother, and her younger sister lived with her mother’s parents, and her grandmother was the one who led Sharon to Christ.

Sharon attended many military schools in the U.S. and overseas, including Sasebo, Japan, and Fulda, Germany. While in Germany, her sister, who was ten years younger, went to school on the base, and Sharon attended the U.S. high school in Frankfurt, where she lived in a dorm with other U.S. students from all over Europe. Each

week she would take a four-hour military bus ride from Fulda to Frankfurt and

then return back to Fulda for weekends and summer breaks. During her free time,

she worked in the Nurse’s Office at school, because she thought she would like

to be a nurse one day. After his tour in Germany, her father was stationed in

Ft. Knox, Kentucky, where they had a retirement home on Doe Valley Lake.

After their first meeting, Ed became a frequent visitor at Sharon’s home. They began spending a lot of time together, and he took her sailing on the same Fast Eddy that he had built and raced as a boy. Sharon was impressed with Ed’s kindness, good character, intelligence, and Christian faith. They became engaged the next summer and were married on October 8, 1966. That was the beginning of their life’s journey of love.

After earning a master’s degree in electrical engineering at the University of Kentucky, Ed joined Bell Telephone Labs, the research and design department of AT&T, and he and Sharon moved to Indianapolis, Indiana. A few years later, they bought a farm out in the country just east of Indianapolis, where they raised their four daughters—Tami, Sheri, Dana, and Kelli. They had lots of pets and farm animals, maintained a large garden,

and grew corn and soybeans. Over the years, they remodeled their farmhouse,

added more land to the farm, and acquired several rental houses, which the

entire family helped to paint and renovate. Ed’s hobby was managing the farm,

working on the property, and remodeling houses while still working full time.

At Bell Labs, Ed designed circuits used in telephone products that were manufactured in Indianapolis until 1985, when the AT&T monopoly broke up, and production started going overseas. Ed then started designing answer/record machines and spent weeks at a time in Hong Kong, China, Thailand, and Mexico getting his designs into manufacture. When AT&T started selling in Europe, Ed traveled there to make sure the products met the circuit requirements of each individual country. He has several patents and was promoted to Distinguished Member of the Technical Staff. AT&T broke up even further in 1997, and rather than relocate to New Jersey, Ed decided to retire at the age of

fifty-two after thirty years of exceptional dedication to his career with Bell Labs.

In addition to all the farm responsibilities, rental projects, and girls’ activities and sports, Sharon somehow found time to go back to school at Indiana University School of Nursing to fulfill her dream of becoming a registered nurse. She then worked in the pre-op and recovery room of Community Hospitals Indianapolis for twenty-five years. Ed feels she was heroic in the way she faithfully managed the family and her job

while supporting him as he traveled on business. Sharon says it was a labor of love.

Faith and family have always been very important to Ed and Sharon. As their daughters were growing up, they tried to make sure the family was together for dinner, and the girls all learned to be good cooks like their mother. They also learned about hard work, responsibility, and Christian values and were involved in many sports, music, and church activities. They were encouraged to further their education, and all four daughters graduated from college, got married, and built close-knit families of

their own. Ed and Sharon treasure the memories from the forty years spent

in their Indiana farmhouse raising their family and enjoying country life.

As the girls left the nest, Ed and Sharon started to travel more frequently. Their favorite trips were visits with friends and family, including lots of graduations and weddings. Two of their daughters married Marine Corps officers, and Ed and Sharon have traveled to see them in many interesting places. One son-in-law was a Weapons System Officer (Wizzo) on an F/A-18 aircraft. The other is a commandant at The Citadel in South Carolina, and each of them have a son who is a military pilot. Ed and Sharon have

been able to share exciting experiences like a Marine Corps Birthday Ball and a ride

in a F/A-18 flight simulator. In addition to all the family events, Ed and Sharon loved vacationing in Florida and, in 1999, surprised themselves by buying a canal home at Fairview Isles on Fort Myers Beach. In the beginning, they were only able to spend

short amounts of time there, because even though Ed was retired, Sharon continued working until 2001. When she decided to retire, they sold their Indiana country home, totally renovated their Florida home, and started spending their winters in Fort

Myers Beach. They enjoyed the beach, sailing, motor boating, and entertaining

family and friends. For ten years, they drove to Fort Myers Beach every winter and

back to Indianapolis every summer. Their other travels included cruises, visits

to foreign countries, and a memorable cross-country driving trip from

Seattle to Fort Myers Beach that had been on their bucket list. They still

hope to travel to Israel and the Oberammergau Passion Play.  

Ed has always been very athletic and involved in many different sports. When running gained popularity in the 1970s, he became a member of the AT&T corporate running team and participated in many races, including thirteen half marathons and the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C., which he ran at age fifty with his son-in-law. He has played golf for many years, and he and Sharon have been in bowling leagues and bridge groups. After retiring, Ed volunteered at Habitat for Humanity, helping build two complete houses in Indiana and working to install vinyl siding on over a hundred houses in Florida. Ed has been a stamp collector since he was ten years old. He has collected tens of thousands of U.S. postage stamps, envelopes, and postcards and is

an active member of the Cape Coral Stamp Club. Sharon’s hobbies include ceramics, and her musical, lighted Christmas trees still shine every year in the homes

of many of their family. Ed and Sharon were both very involved in their Fairview

Isles community, helping with maintenance and social events. They also have

been active in their churches, including Wilkinson Church of Christ in Indiana

and First Baptist Church Naples in Florida. Ed has been a trustee and a deacon

and has volunteered in the audio/video and maintenance areas. Sharon has

worked in the nursery, helped with hospitality, and been a care group leader.

Through the years, they have been committed to serving wherever they can.

One of Sharon’s loves has been studying family history, and DNA testing showed that both she and Ed have a significant percentage of Irish, Welsh, and English heritage. Ed’s ancestry goes back eleven generations to English Captain John Underhill. Sharon’s ancestry traces back forty-one generations to Charlemagne. She is a descendant of

Dr. Thomas Wynne of Caerwys, Wales, who came to America with William Penn.

In 2006, she and twenty-three of her cousins took a genealogy trip to Wales,

where they were hosted by the mayor of Caerwys, honored at several receptions,

and given official tours of the places their Wynne ancestors lived and worked.

Sharon is a life member in several genealogy societies, including the Order

of the Crown of Charlemagne and the National Society Daughters of the

American Revolution. In 2013, because of her outstanding service, she

was elected Honorary Regent of the Estero Island Chapter NSDAR.

In 2017, the day after attending their granddaughter’s wedding in Indiana, Sharon and Ed were passengers in a car that was involved in a serious auto accident, and Ed was critically injured. Six weeks later, they discovered he had a huge subdural hematoma that could have easily taken his life, and he was rushed into emergency surgery. Because of answered prayers, a very skilled neurosurgeon, months of rehabilitation, and Ed’s willpower and determination, he was eventually able to return to his normal life.

The Underhills spent twenty-two years living part time then full time on Fort Myers Beach. They had known for a long time that their next move would be to Shell

Point, and they became residents of the Enclave in December of 2020. They

consider Shell Point a gift that they gave to each other and to their daughters.

In addition to getting to know new friends and neighbors, they are enjoying

golfing, kayaking, entertaining, Tribby concerts, academy classes, and fun rides

to lunch on the Suzy Q.  Ed is part of the stamp ministry as well as the sailing

club, where he races radio-controlled sailboats like the Fast Eddy II that he built

himself. In December of 2021, they became members of The Village Church.

Ed and Sharon will celebrate fifty-six years of marriage on October 8, 2022. They

have been blessed with eleven grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren,

and their goal is to leave a legacy of faith and love. They are thankful for all

of God’s blessings throughout their life’s journey and look forward to new

adventures as they spend their golden years at beautiful Shell Point.

bottom of page