Sharon Malheiro Obituary

Sharon K Malheiro
Sharon K Malheiro

November 26, 1956 - April 10, 2023
Born in Chicago, IL
Resided in Des Moines, IA
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Sharon Malheiro passed peacefully in her sleep on April 10, 2023 in the presence of her loving wife, Sue Malheiro.

Sharon Malheiro’s passion for helping empower the disenfranchised -- and especially LGBTQ Iowans -was in itself extraordinary given how easily she could have sat back and basked in the fruits of her professional success, both as a journalist and a lawyer. But few advocates could claim the kind of impact Sharon could have for her advocacy work.

The right of same sex couples to marry in Iowa is one.

Because of the extraordinary, often behind the scenes groundwork Sharon laid, Iowa in 2009 became only the third state in the nation to recognize same sex marriage rights with a unanimous Iowa Supreme Court ruling.

In 2005, with that goal in mind, she co-founded One Iowa, along with Lambda Legal. And on October 10, 2009, Sharon ultimately accomplished her own personal goal, to marry Sue legally in the eyes of all. Their union was first formalized in a commitment ceremony eight years earlier: October 13, 2001.

That timeline, however, doesn’t do justice to the true length and depth of their union, as sadly it has also not done for the countless same-sex couples Sharon fought to get marriage access for. Her commitment to Sue, and Sue to her, spanned more than 33 years.

The initial focus of Sharon’s civil rights advocacy was local. In 1991 her goal was passage of an anti-discrimination ordinance in Des Moines. By 2007, largely as a result of her continued advocacy, the state of Iowa outlawed discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

Sharon was born to Mike and Bonnie Malheiro in Chicago, IL on November 26, 1956. She attended Drake University, class of 1978, graduating with a Degree in Journalism. From 1979 to 1987 she served as managing editor of the Des Moines Register and Tribune syndicate, after which, in 1988, she got a law degree from Drake Law School. She was registered with the Iowa bar for over 30 years.

She joined the Davis Brown law firm in 1990 and became a shareholder in 1995, serving as its president from 2010 to 2012. She was the first openly gay woman to be a law firm president in all of Iowa. She was a leader in the relocation of the firm to Davis Brown tower.

Sharon thrived on the prospect of advancement for all of us, and in developing a meaningful approach to real and lasting change. That commitment stemmed from her deep personal connections with people. She and Sue opened their home every Friday for “Framily Night.” It was a high priority event for both of them, which exponentially expanded their personal impact on others. Many friends have sat at their table discussing life, goals, and challenges, looking for and getting solid advice, really great food, and wonderful wine.

Sharon continued her meaningful impact and work on LGBTQ rights up until her death -- Birth certificates, death certificates, divorce, elder care, family rights - all the details that make our lives somewhat equal. She was generous with her time, and if she couldn’t fix something for those she cared about herself, she was masterful at connecting people with others who could. She fought tirelessly for all of us.

There will be a visitation on Friday April 14th from 4:00 pm -7:00 pm at Iles Dunn’s Chapel and a service on Saturday at 10:00 am at Plymouth Church. The burial will be at Glendale Cemetery immediately following the service.

Sharon is survived by her wife, Sue Malheiro, Sue’s three children, Eirik (Stacey) Ackerman, Julie (Howard) Bermel, Paige (Kelly) Brosseth, her four grandchildren, Evan, Howie, Eithan and Emily and her many loving friends.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations made in honor of Sharon to One Iowa, Planned Parenthood or the Animal Rescue League. The best way to honor Sharon’s legacy is to be forthright and fearless in defending the civil and reproductive rights of all at a time when they are endangered in Iowa and around the nation.




Iles Dunn's Chapel
2121 Grand Ave.
Des Moines, IA US 50312
Friday, April 14, 2023
4:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ
4126 Ingersoll Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50312
Saturday, April 15, 2023
10:00 AM


Animal Rescue League Of Iowa
5452 NE 22nd Street
Des Moines, IA 50313
The Animal Rescue League of Iowa (ARL) is Iowa's largest nonprofit animal shelter, caring for many thousands of pets each year. The ARL serves people and pets from across the state of Iowa through its programs, which include pet adoption, humane education, pet behavior training, spay/neuter, animal cruelty intervention and much more.
One Iowa
950 Office Park Road, Suite 240
West Des Moines, IA 50265
Planned Parenthood North Central States
PO Box 310838
Des Moines, IA USA 50331-0838