Tuesday, July 13, 2010

My Two Grandmothers

It is as grandmothers
that our mothers come
into the fullness of their grace.
~Christopher Morley

Hello Shepard Family and Friends,

I have been thinking about my two grandmothers lately, Bura Davis Shepard and Nola Shannon Gower, and how their lives paralleled each other. I was fortunate to have grown up in San Diego when they both lived here and was a grateful recipient of their grandmotherly love. My grandfathers Will Shepard and Leroy Gower were also important to me, but like many grandmothers, these women were very special.

They were both born into large farming families in rural, middle America: Bura near Spencer, Indiana about 3 years before the turn of the 20th century, and Nola near Mountain View, Arkansas about 3 years after the turn of the century. Both migrated to Oklahoma with their families when they were young; Bura as a teenager to Beaver County in 1910, and Nola as a 22 year old wife and mother to Okfuskee County, in 1925. 

The first picture, taken about 1930, shows a young Nola Shannon Gower on the left with her mother Finetta Dearien Shannon and 2 of her sisters (Nola was the youngest of 9 kids). The picture below shows Bura Davis Shepard on the left in San Diego about 1943 with a family friend Alice Hall.

Both Nola and Bura, with husbands and children, moved further west in the early 1940s, to San Diego, California, where they lived most of the rest of their lives. They did not actually meet until about 1944 in San Diego. That's when Bura's son Eugene and Nola's daughter Maida struck up a wartime romance and were married May 24, 1945. As a result Nola and Bura shared grandmother duties for 6 children born in the middle years of the 20th century.

Today they each have 2 surviving children: Nola's daughters Maida Shepard and Vicki Johnston of Washington State (see their picture below); and Bura's son Elmer Shepard of Texas, and daughter Thelma Boyd of New Mexico (select this link to see their picture). My two grandmothers have 22 descendants in common, the oldest being a grandson, Gary Shepard of Washington State, and the youngest being a GGgranddaughter, Preslea Shepard, of San Francisco.

Nola and Bura were both the religious torch bearers for their particular family until their dying day. Bura was a staunch, life long member of the Church of Christ; Nola was a devoted Southern Baptist all her life.

Both spent their last few years in Anacortes, Washington with their children Eugene and Maida Shepard. Bura died there in 1986 at 90 years old, and Nola died there 6 years ago this month at the age of 102. They are both buried next to their husbands and within a few steps of each other in Greenwood Cemetery in San Diego.

I speak for all those who knew these women in saying that they are still remembered today with fondness and deep affection for their character, their faith and their unfailing devotion to their family.
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1 comment:

Garrett. said...

Great story