Hello from Anacortes, where Cindy and I are visiting the family and thinking through some of the details of the family reunion coming up July 19. Maida and Barbara have done a lot of work making plans for the special day and deserve a lot of thanks.
Fascinating Family Fact: Did you know? This coming Tuesday is the 90th Birthday of Elmer Shepard, presently the senior member of our Shepard clan. Elmer was born in 1918 in Beaver County, Oklahoma, the second child of William and Bura Shepard. He is one of our only living ties to the life of the Shepard family before they moved from Oklahoma about 80 years ago. His little sister Thelma and his nephew Rex Russell also came west with the family to California, but were born in the tiny Southeast Colorado town of Two Buttes, where the family lived for a few years before coming all the way west. Congratulations to Elmer on this great milestone of turning 90!
Very few of the Shepards we know about lived into their 90s. Grandad, and his only sister Sadie, both died in the very month of their 88th birthday. Gram and Grandad's two children who have died, Pauline and Eugene, each lived to be 82. Gram, a small, tender woman, surprised many of us by living to be 90. So our prayers and birthday greetings are with Elmer at 90, as he continues to set the pace for all of us! Our best wishes are also with Dane and Joan and all those who provide care for our favorite nanogenarian.
These days we are as concerned as ever with living as long as possible with good quality lives. One big factor in how long we each will live is our family history. For this reason I took a look at the folks in our Shepard family and found some interesting facts. Gram and Grandad had 31 ancestors whose ages we know (they are all listed on Ancestry.com). The average life span of all these relatives (Gram, Grandad, Pauline, Eugene and the other 31) is 65 years, which is above average for people of their time.
Only 3 people among them all lived at least 90 years: Gram (1896-1986) plus two of her great grandfathers: John Lynn Wright (1810-1909) who lived to be 99!, and John Pouty Williams (1806-1898), who lived to be 92. This is remarkable since the life expectancy for Americans at the end of the 1800s was about 50 years. The life expectancy for Americans born today is about 77 years.
These facts relate only to the William and Bura Shepard part of our heritage. Each of us has at least one other part of our family tree which has to be taken into consideration. The bottom line though is that generally our Shepard ancestors lived longer than the average person for their time in history, and in some cases lived exceptionally long lives! All this is quite encouraging as we each seek to live as long and full as possible.
Birthday wishes: Besides Elmer, whose birthday will be this coming Tuesday (May 20), we extend a very Happy Birthday to Jason Shepard (30-something) on Sunday (May 18). Happy Birthday also to Ashlyn Ortiz who turns 3 on Tuesday (May 19) and TODAY to (40-something) Darren Boyd!
Family Faces. I am including two family pictures. The first is a picture of Elmer with his oldest granddaughter Havilah Colgain. On the back of the photo it says that it was taken on Elmer's birthday in 1984. (Joan, can you tell us more about the circumstances surrounding this picture?)
The other picture is of birthday girl Ashlyn Ortiz and her family. Ashlyn is the one on the hip of her mother Desiree. Her father Jeremy is holding her little brother Damian. In front is her older sister Ciara, who, like her Great Great Grandfather William Shepard, is not always comfortable in front of a camera. Thanks to Grandmother Kim for this picture, taken just last month in Balboa Park in San Diego.