Sharon Shapiro, a court reporter who also worked as a freelance sound engineer, died Friday of breast cancer at Washington Adventist Hospital. The Silver Spring resident was 56.
Ms. Shapiro was born in Baltimore and raised on Upper Park Heights Avenue. While attending Northwestern High School, she performed in musicals. After graduating in 1970, she earned a bachelor's degree in communications from the University of Maryland, College Park, in 1974.
While at UM, Ms. Shapiro hosted Ms. Understood on the college's radio station.
She briefly worked as a waitress, Fuller Brush saleswoman and a magician's assistant before taking a job for a decade as a sound engineer at Omega Studios in Kensington.
Ms. Shapiro later worked as a freelance sound engineer for the now-defunct Anton's 1201 Club, a Pennsylvania Avenue supper club; Black Entertainment TV; and for the past 30 years, she had been associated with Blues Alley, a Georgetown supper and jazz club. She also had been on the administrative staff of the Warner Theatre in Washington.
For the past seven years, Ms. Shapiro also worked as a court reporter for Beta Court Reporting in Washington.
"Any important jazz player that came to Washington would ask for her services by name. Nancy Wilson, B.B. King and Eartha Kitt - who became close friends - wouldn't do anything without Sharon," said a sister, Donna Beth Joy Shapiro, who lives in Bolton Hill, and is director of communications for East Baltimore Development Inc.
"Sharon was smart, sensitive, a wicked Scrabble player, articulate, funny, and the sweet side of saucy and sassy," she said. "She was a person who danced to her own tune."
She was a member of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 22.
Diagnosed with breast cancer eight years ago, Ms. Shapiro was active with the Holy Cross Hospital cancer support group and the Wellness Community in Washington.
Ms. Shapiro enjoyed vacationing at the ocean, bike riding, photography and travel. She also liked playing roulette and bingo.
Services were held yesterday.
Also surviving are two brothers, Allan B. Shapiro of Owings Mills and Richard M. "Ricky" Shapiro of Timonium; another sister, Mindy S. Shapiro of Philadelphia; and many nieces and nephews.