Football star who perished in Cocoanut Grove fire still remembered by his high school community

Blog Post created by laurenbackstrom Employee on Dec 7, 2012
Image from Boston Herald, taken from an NFPA video, shows, top left, Ann (Clark) Gallagher, her parents, bottom left; Fred Sharby Jr., his parents.

Seventy years after Keene High School football star Fred B. Sharby perished in the 1942 Cocoanut Grove fire in Boston, he continues to be remembered by the high school football community.

Sharby, an 18-year-old Keene High School football player, was at Boston's Cocoanut Grove nightclub with his girlfriend, Keene football cheerleader Ann Marie Clark, and both their parents, when a fire broke out. The two families had just attended a football game between Boston College and Holy Cross.

Fred, his mother and his girlfriend came out of the fire. Fred B. Sharby made a heroic decision that night to go back in for his father and Ann's parents.

A total of 492 people, including Fred, his father, and Ann's parents, died in the nightclub fire, which shocked the nation and generated headlines worldwide.


Lucas Luopa, Ann Clark Gallagher, and Jack Zimmerman.
Winning the 2012 Fred B. Sharby Award Thursday night was 18-year-old Lucas Luopa, co-captain of the Keene High School Blackbird Football team.

Luopa said the Sharby award represents the best football player on and off the field, and is the most distinguished award at Keene High School.

Presenting the award Thursday night was Sharby's former girlfriend, Ann Clark Gallagher, and the first recipient of the award, Jack Zimmerman.

"If it were not for Fred, I might not be here," Gallagher said. "I was 16 years old then, I'm 86 years old now and I'm still here. Thank you, Fred."

Zimmerman, the first recipient of the award in 1943, is now a retired lawyer. Like Ann, he is 86.