Fred took our jobs seriously by researching the proper way to serve each course so as not to disappoint our British-born birthday girl! For our “impeccable service” that day, on her next trip back to New Orleans in May, Sharon thanked Babs and us by treating for dinner at Commander’s Palace --a night where she knew the service would be truly impeccable! We will miss her generous, fun-loving spirit and remain grateful for having known her."
Hanging with friends at Girls Night Out (Photo: Gretchen Wheaton)
"Sharon's grandsons played baseball in their early years with my boys - that is how I met Sharon, about 10 years ago. Not long after meeting her in Illinois, I was in New Orleans for business. That is the back drop for this memory:
I will never forget the night I took her out to dinner in NewO at DickieBrennans. It is my favorite eatery in NewO - I had asked for my favorite waiter Otis, and I wanted her to meet the MaitreD Mr Charles. She played along with a grin and warmth.
It was about 1/2 way thru dinner - the entire staff had been by to say hi and talk with her - that I realized it was not her first time at DickieB's 🙂 By the end of the night she had me rolling in laughter at the idiocy of me taking her out in 'her town' ! She and MrCharles had known each other for a dozen years if not more, etc etc!
Sharon taught me about grace and humility that night - and about her good humor!"
-Ronald M. Moen
"I go back nearly 40 years with Sharon. It was the summer of 1978, and I was a lowly, scared, and easily intimidated intern for the Family Section of The States-Item. Just making a phone call made me nearly sick to stomach. Sharon could not have been more welcoming. There was something about her personality — her charm, her sense of humor, her devil-may-care attitude — that almost immediately put me at ease. She along with her friend Renee Peck took me under their wings and made feel like journalism was something I could really do, that it wasn’t a fantasy, that I had the chops to succeed in this very competitive business — which I’m happy to say I did.
With social media still many years away, I lost touch with Sharon — that is until 1990s when I became a feature writer in The Times-Picayune’s Living section. Although Sharon was no longer at the paper, she did do a fair bit of freelancing, her most noted work coming the first Friday of every Jazz Fest when she would lead a group of taste testers — including me — around the Fair Grounds to sample every single food item, from crawfish sacks to crawfish Monica, and share our opinions. Sharon would feverishly take notes on what everyone had to say and within a couple of days turn it into one of the most widely read stories in the paper. What a privilege it was for me to take part in that 'very difficult' assignment with such an amazing woman leading the way. Don’t think I could ever take another bit of Jazz Fest food without thinking about Sharon and all the fun we had stuffing ourselves. I sure hope that wherever she is now she is chowing down on a Cajun duck po-boy and washing it down with a strawberry lemonade."
"Sharon Litwin remains in our memories as a vibrant, intelligent person who made such a difference in New Orleans. We can always picture her dynamic personality, ready smile, and sense of humor. It is hard to believe that one person could have accomplished what she did in New Orleans and left the city and its culture better than when she arrived!
We first knew her as a fellow Newman parent. Our daughters’ Rebecca Litwin Newman and Kathy Weilbaecher were friends. We knew her at first as a loving, caring and fun parent. It wasn’t long before we realized all that she was doing for our city.
During her tenure at the New Orleans Museum of Art, she was so innovative in getting interest in the museum. We enjoyed her leadership in groups like The Partners in Art and Delgado Society. They were fun as well as educational, and she encouraged people to move up to higher categories of donation.
I sat by Sharon Litwin four years ago at a lunch. We caught up on our children and grandchildren and in the conversation, I mentioned that our youngest daughter was having her first child in Chicago. We were not going to be able to see the baby for a week after the birth. She put us in touch with Sharon’s daughter, Dr. Rebecca Litwin Newman, a pediatrician in Chicago. It was so lucky for us that Rebecca was seeing all the newborns in the very hospital that our daughter was delivering the baby boy.
Rebecca went to see our new grand baby and reported that we would love to hug this healthy boy with his chubby cheeks! Sharon was truly happy for us! The old phrase, 'If you want something done, ask a busy person' really applied to Sharon Litwin. She had a 'life well lived,' and we are all better for having known her."
--Sharon, Bob, Kathy Susan, Bobby, Ann Weilbaecher
"When I think of my good friend Sharon Litwin, I’m reminded of what Moss Hart said about Sharon’s fellow Brit Julie Andrews when Hart directed her in My Fair Lady: 'She has that terrible British strength that makes you wonder how they ever lost India.'
During her half-century in New Orleans, Sharon was a terrific leader who had the magical property of making even the most improbable things happen – creating a farmers market, for instance, or raising millions of dollars for a museum wing, or getting convicts to design water lilies for streetcars to promote an exhibit of Monet’s paintings. (I’m not making that up.)
All these things took plenty of work, but, like any good magician, Sharon didn’t let on about that aspect of her magic. What made her a splendid leader, aside from the fact that one simply didn’t say no to Sharon Litwin, was her ability to make whatever she was doing seem like the coolest thing in the world that you wouldn’t want to miss out on.
I speak from second-hand experience here. In 1995, my wife, Diana Pinckley, told me that Sharon Litwin had called to enlist her in the plan to launch what has become the Crescent City Farmers Market.
Pinckley signed on immediately because, she said, Sharon made it sound exciting. Later on, when Sharon asked Pinckley to chair the market board, she said yes, not only because she believed in the market and was an enthusiastic customer but also because she knew better than to say no.
Sharon possessed the power of the Pied Piper. Every year on the opening day of Jazz Fest, Sharon -- followed by a group of happy acolytes -- would stake out a table and dispatch folks to go to as many food booths as possible to pick up dishes for group sampling and for the roundup she would write for the following Friday’s Lagniappe. We felt like privileged insiders to be in that number.
Cellist Yo-Yo Ma dines at the Roosevelt New Orleans Hotel with the friends and sponsors of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra on October 18, 1009
Photo by Judi, LPO with violinist Itzhak Perlman at the Mahalia Jackson Theatre opening night Saturday, Jan. 10, 2009.
Adkerson, Sharon, and Bulter
I met Sharon when she worked at WYES. She was a producer who, on Friday afternoons, doubled as a makeup artist when we States-Item scribes would show up to appear on 'City Desk,' which I described as the country cousin of 'Washington Week in Review.'
I later worked with Sharon at The States-Item and The Times-Picayune, and I watched her blossom at the New Orleans Museum of Art and the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as in her multitude of volunteer activities.
No doubt about it, Sharon fit in with the city’s musicians, artists and decision-makers, and she seemed to know everyone worth knowing. Even though she remained resolutely British – she used a life-size cut-out of Queen Elizabeth II, complete with handbag, to denote her house when it was time for her annual latke party – I’ll never forget the first-person story she wrote for The States-Item when she became an American citizen, accompanied by a photo of Sharon signing the necessary paperwork. She was so proud.
But there was no mistaking the British core. She claimed to be able to do a splendid imitation of Dame Vera Lynn’s singing 'The White Cliffs of Dover' – I’m sorry I never got to hear it – and she could unleash her crisp accent to remind you of who was in charge.
At a local 2012 party to celebrate the queen’s Diamond Jubilee, when the moment came to lift our glasses to toast the monarch, we must have been a little bit rowdy because a crisply accented voice cut through the chatter with this command: “Everyone upstanding.”
You’d better believe that we all shut up and stood.
I’ll miss that accent – and the person behind it.
Here’s to you, Sharon. With love."
"I did a search on 'Do female lions roar?' We all know the iconic male roar - big mane, rather vain actually. There was a YouTube clip of a lioness roaring. Cubs were romping behind her; her male mate was sleeping. But the Lioness was on duty, making sure things didn't get out of hand. Taking care of business. Sharon Litwin was a Lioness of the first order. A leader and mentor for her like-minded 'cub' colleagues. Seldom depending on the closest male to protect her or bolster her cause. Fearless. This served her well in the personal quest to improve the lives of all of us. She leaves a hole in New Orleans that I don't think any one person can fill. I loved her tenacity, but I also loved her quick wit and her laugh. I hope she was laughing as she slipped from our world onto something bigger."
Sharon showing her "Greed" skills
1. Intense and selfish desire for something, especially wealth or power.
2. Holiday tradition played at the Peck family house, in which you roll dice to select a gift or steal from another. Players can go home with multiples presents, or remain empty-handed. "Like life, it's unfair, arbitrary and based entirely on luck" – Renee Peck herself.
While Sharon was the absolute anti-thesis to the more familiar definition of 'greed' – selflessly giving her time, wisdom, love generosity, etc. to those lucky enough to surround her – she was always my first choice as a partner in this eccentric family game. From her talent at coming up with team names (I believe we were 'The Dancing Queens' last year), to her shrewd ability to pick the most valuable presents, any moment spent with her was a moment worth treasuring. I love you Sharon – you'll forever be my first greed pick!"
"Bon Voyage Sharon! Le temps vol. From a man who shared a sandwich with you, just after the storm."
"I can’t remember a time when I didn’t
know Sharon – she was such a shining, smiling, powerful presence as a friend and mentor.It was shocking to me that I actually got to follow in her footsteps as an Assistant Director at NOMA…but who could ever fill those footsteps??
She shared her wisdom and guidance long before that job, however…and long after.
Most of all – and for what I am most grateful – is that she shared herself. Her glorious self. Her humor and wit. Her boundless appetite for learning. Her ceaseless determination to do more…for people, for institutions, for her adopted and beloved city.
I learned so much from Sharon. I loved being with her. I loved her."
In the Jewish tradition, it is said that the departed we now remember still live on Earth in the acts of goodness they performed, and in the hearts of those who cherish their memory. In those ways, Sharon truly will live forever.
"I always waited for that magic moment when Sharon would call our NolaVie meetings to a close. With a smile and a clear voice she would say, "I declare this meeting disintegrated." She made me feel comfortable with her warmth and million dollar smile. I can't believe she's gone, and I don't believe it. I'm sure she's taken a seat at our NolaVie meeting table unless she's too busy organizing heaven." -- Carol Pulitzer
From hot wings to seven-course meals, Sharon loved them all (Photo by: Nina Feldman)
"I had the happy occasion to meet my mother and Sharon in New York a couple of times when they were there for orchestra conventions. The offers involved a free place to sleep bunking in with Mom, time on my own to 'suit myself tooling around' while they were in meetings, and at least one guaranteed special restaurant experience. Sharon was still working for the Zagat guide at the time as a restaurant critic, and would schedule meetings with Tim Zagat to touch base while she was there. Mom and I did not get to experience the uber-royal treatment involved in eating at a table with Tim, but I loved hearing about it when we regrouped. And although Sharon adhered strictly to being incognito when she was eating somewhere she was reviewing, I'm pretty sure she got to throw the Zagat connection around when booking reservations for us. We always had a great table, a great meal, and a great time! Sharon would look at me and say things like 'Oh yes- we were born for this!' and I would make eyebrows and agree, pretending to sling a stole back over my shoulder, while Mom would roll her eyes at us. Mom admired Sharon's ability to stay grounded and get things done, while I (coming from a totally different perspective) embraced the glamorous side of her jobs even though I knew she worked like a dog.
Later on after Mom retired from the LPO and the Zagat guide had been sold to Google, Sharon was still my go-to person for all things food and restaurant. I was working on putting together an engagement party for my youngest brother, and needed advice on restaurants in New Orleans with private rooms. I texted Sharon with a request for suggestions and also mentioned the passing of the ceramicist JoAnn Greenberg, whom we both knew, signing off with my usual 'S.' I didn’t realize I had texted her home number, and furthermore, that if you unwittingly text a land-line, a robot will call that number and read the text message out loud, taking punctuation and capitalization into consideration in order to accurately convey the feeling behind the words. When Sharon came home and played her messages she listened to what sounded like a man with a laryngectomy say:
'Loo-king for a fun-kee venue in…. No!!!! For part-ee for Rock-ee. So sad a-bout JoAnn Greenberg. Ess.'
I could not have written a weirder, more awesomely absurd message for a robot to read out loud if I had tried. The mildly suggestive, fake-Chinese sounding come-on, interrupted by a seemingly schitzofrenic, remonstrative 'No!' (the misinterpretation of my abbreviation for New Orleans), and then mention of her recently deceased friend must have been quite disturbing, and all before the final humiliation of being called an ass. When she called me back, it took a minute to figure out who it was because she was laughing so hard I really couldn’t understand her. After we managed to figure out what on earth had just happened, I think we stayed on the phone for five minutes not speaking, but just laughing into each other’s ear. This is how I picture her in my mind- shoulders heaving, head thrown back, and hooting with laughter. It’s kind of interesting that although I obviously couldn’t see her then, this mental picture is much clearer than any real memory of her face.
And I think that’s just fine."
"It seems like I knew Sharon for decades, first as Marty Litwin's wife -- he did the surgery on one of my private duty patients when I was an R.N. Then, once I became the Society Photographer for the Times-Picayune, she was often my contact person at events, and an efficient one at that. I never could reconcile her British accent, however, because she seemed to be a native New Orleanian. She was so involved in the cultural life of the city. New Orleans has lost a devoted friend, and we are all the poorer for it. Yet, her legacy will not fade any time soon."
Sharon Litwin and Deborah Pope at the first Going for Baroque event (Photo provided by: Deborah Pope)
"I was Sharon's assistant for almost three years until she left NOMA for the LPO. She was supportive and generous. She even had faith enough in me to allow me to curate the satellite Degas exhibit at the Sheraton downtown. In the years to follow, every time I would see her at the symphony or the opera, I gave her a big hug and thank you for all she did for me, and I would enjoy one of her beaming smiles. Every time I hear someone say "sweetie" I think of her.
This photo is of us at the inaugural Going for Baroque run/walk. Her joyful, smiling face says everything about the enthusiasm she had for life. I will always be grateful for the honor of knowing her."
"Really? Did we look that much alike? White short hair, about the same vintage, similar taste in clothes, hung out in the same places for a few years more than a decade, ordered the same items on menus, laughed on a dime, mostly voted Democrat, and told the unvarnished truth. We never really understood how people could get us confused. Truth be told, Sharon had a gazillion more funny stories, knew infinitely more restaurants, gave many more parties, and offered to pay the bill more often – thank goodness!
Here’s the thing…I don’t know anyone who enjoyed life and lived it to the fullest any more than Sharon -- good times and bad. I hope it rubbed off on me. So if you run into me and think it might be Sharon, I’m going to smile and say, 'Well sort of...it’s Babs; but thanks, I’m wearing her Eileen Fisher.'"
"There are so many years, so many stories, and so many beautiful memories with Sharon. She was a driving force for excellence for so many decades. I first met her during the 1984 World's Fair planning when she, in her role at NOMA, and Lee Kimche pulled together the competition for water sculptures. She was and remained a source of invigorating and inspirational thinking, and one who would never settle for mediocrity or dullness. And of course that voice! Sharon had the most peaceful and soothing British accent, and could weave even the most uncomfortable conversations into pleasant exchanges, leaving the ear wanting for more.
Most importantly, Sharon was someone who would give it to you straight, enjoy a good time with friends, and never wasted time on earth. She was and remains a gift to us."