On Aug. 24, Sharon Dickerson-Reed, a dedicated University of Richmond Dining Services employee from Henrico County, died at age 51. Dickerson-Reed is remembered by her family, friends and co-workers at Dining Services for her lively personality and the charisma she brought to work each day.
“Sharon was a really great employee,” said Matt Lee, the chef and manager of UR Downtown and former chef and manager of Richmond on Broad Cafe. “She was a people person and really enjoyed connecting with customers. With all the comment cards we got at the [Richmond on Broad] cafe about how great she was and how I should give her a raise, I would even say she had quite a big fan base.”
Dickerson-Reed worked at the Richmond On Broad Cafe for eight years, from August 2012 through July 2020, Lee said. Typically, she worked as a cashier during the breakfast shift, Lee said.
“She was the start of a lot of peoples’ days,” Lee said. “We had a lot of regulars downtown, and they would all open up and talk to her. She just had a great ability to connect to people.”
In July, Dickerson-Reed became a line server at the Heilman Dining Center after the Richmond on Broad Cafe closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In both roles, she was a beloved and integral part of Dining Services, Lee said.
Those who knew and worked with Dickerson-Reed at the Richmond On Broad Cafe echoed Lee’s sentiment about Dickerson-Reed being a bright and outgoing employee.
“Sharon was always cheerful and fun to work with,” said Petar Vjestica, Dickerson-Reed's coworker for eight years. “I was always the first person to the restaurant in the morning because I had to deliver the cold food for the day. A few minutes later, there Sharon would always be at the door. She was always in early and ready for the day.”
Vjestica said he had admired Dickerson-Reed's ability to connect with customers each day at the cafe.
“Her enthusiasm and the way she approached customers was amazing,” Vjestica said. “She knew every customer by name and every customer knew her name.”
Others who worked alongside Dickerson-Reed described her as being an incredible person.
“She was just a good person with really good energy,” said Ashante Pegeas, who also worked with Dickerson-Reed for eight years. “Everyone gravitated toward her.”
Dickerson-Reed and Pegeas started working at the Richmond On Broad Cafe when it first opened in 2012 and worked there together nearly every shift until it closed in July, Pegeas said.
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Dickerson-Reed's coworkers recounted fond memories of her favorite things.
“Sharon loved food and loved to eat,” Vjestica said. “She was a true Southern-comfort kind of lady. But her favorite food of all was, surprisingly, cereal.”
Dickerson-Reed also loved reading and keeping her mind sharp, Pegeas said.
“She was always talking about a book she had just read or wanted to read or was doing word search books in her free time at work," Pegeas said.
But what Dickerson-Reed loved most were her grandchildren, Pegeas said.
“She always talked about her grandbabies and how being around them was her favorite thing in the world," Pegeas said. "Those babies are who will miss her the most.”
Pegeas said Dickerson-Reed's family-oriented spirit had helped Pegeas every day.
“Sharon was always there for me through some of the hardest moments of my life and had been there for me every day since,” Pegeas said. “I will miss her so much. We used to work right next to each other at the cafe and we’d jokingly call ourselves the wonder twins.
“She will always be my wonder twin.”
University Chaplain Craig Kocher informed students of Dickerson-Reed's passing in an email message on Aug. 25.
“[The UR community extends] our deepest condolences to Sharon’s family and friends and all who knew her. She was a beloved colleague and will be dearly missed by the University of Richmond community, ” he wrote.
On Aug. 31 and Sept. 1, a walkthrough memorial was held in honor of Dickerson-Reed at March Funeral Homes. On Sept. 2, a memorial service was held at the funeral home and live-streamed to celebrate and honor Dickerson-Reed's life.
Contact features writer Alex Maloney at email@example.com.
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