Saturday, April 28, 2012

Hall of Famers, April 28, 2012

Home is the place where,
when you have to go there,
they have to take you in.
~Robert Frost

Hello Family and Friends,

Greetings to all of you from our home in historic San Diego, where we have returned after a few weeks away visiting family.

Had my father Eugene Shepard not died 9 years ago in Anacortes, Wash., today would be his 91st birthday. The third child of Will and Bura Davis Shepard, he was born in Beaver County, Oklahoma in 1921. In 1928 his family moved to the tiny town of Two Buttes, Colorado where he finished his formal education and graduated from High School. The following year (1940) his family made a major move to San Diego, following the lead of some of their friends and Davis family members who had already relocated in California. 

The first picture from about 1943 shows the entire clan who moved to San Diego, with the exception of Elmer (who may have been behind the camera). On the back row are Bill and Pauline Shepard Russell, Eugene, Bura, and William Shepard; in front are Rex and Beverly Russell and Thelma Shepard.

While serving in the Navy in 1943, Eugene met his wife-to-be Maida Gower whose family had also recently moved to California. Together they raised their 6 children in San Diego before he retired from the Naval Supply Depot in 1978 and moved to Anacortes, Washington to help with the little church of Christ in that town. For the last 25 years of his life he and Maida lived in Anacortes. His first 19 years were spent in Oklahoma/Colorado, the next 38 years in San Diego, and the final 25 in Washington.

Among his family members who moved to San Diego from Two Buttes, Colorado in 1940 was his niece Beverly Russell. Born in 1939, she was still in diapers when the family landed in California. Had she not died unexpectedly in 1974, yesterday would have been her 73rd birthday.

Bev, the daughter of Bill and Pauline Shepard Russell, and the wife of Phil Wilk, has two descendants living today: her daughter Shannon Wilk and her granddaughter Emma Wilk, of Atchison, Kansas. Her nephew Eric Russell lives in Red Rock, Nevada. The second picture from about 1944 shows Bev on the beach in San Diego, with some unknown admirers of this bathing beauty in the background.

My cousin Beverly and my dad Eugene are people who will always be in my personal "Hall-of-fame". They were both wonderful people to know, and lived quality lives that I will fondly remember all my life. Beverly, a cousin 8 years my senior, was someone I looked up to. She shared her mother's love of life and positive attitude. She loved and supported all her young cousins and enjoyed being the oldest female cousin of the entire brood.

My dad was a extraordinary churchman, and a humble man. Although he lived the biggest portion of his life in the city of San Diego, he carried his small town Oklahoma values and roots with him all his life. He never "got after me" -- so to speak -- for "leaving the fold" of the church of Christ and becoming a Christian Church minister, but was always pleased with whatever I made of myself in life. 

The third picture shows Gene Shepard with his niece Beverly Russell in a picture taken in San Diego about 1944 when he was about 23 and Bev was about 5. All three pictures in this post are from the photo collection given to me by Bev's nephew Eric Russell and his wife Ruthie. Thanks so much to them!

Gene and his mother Bura Davis Shepard were both loyal church of Christ members to their dying day. Their commitment to the church of Christ was extraordinary. Yet I think they both entertained a secret notion that family was a place of love and acceptance that went beyond the teachings of any particular church. And that is to their great credit.

This emphasis on extraordinary love and acceptance within families is spoken to in the lightheartedly cynical quote by Robert Frost at the top of this post, which is from his poem "The Death of the Hired Man".

Speaking of "Hall of famers", today would also be the birthday of my grandmother Nola Shannon Gower, a woman dearly loved and admired by all her descendants. I referred to her at length, and included a picture of her, in my blog post a week ago, so I won't say much about her today, other than she shared April 28 as her birthday, with my dad, her son-in-law, Eugene Shepard.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Twins, Twins! April 24, 2012

Twice the joy, twice the love
twice the blessing from above.

Hello family and friends!

Greetings to all of you from our mountain house in Northern California where Cindy and I find ourselves in this beautiful April day. Here in the Sierra the last snows of winter are melting away and the colors of spring are arriving with a beautiful vengeance.

New Twins! Congratulations to Jeremy and Desiree Ortiz (and grandma Kim Boyd Clark and husband Jeff) of Blue Springs, Missouri who are the proud parents of twin boys. Kim: "We have 2 more grandsons: Isaac Gabriel (3 lbs; 15 inches long) and Dominic Manuel (3.5 lbs; 15 1/2 inches long.) Both middle names are from their grandpas. Isaac is getting a blood transfusion right now. He has a low red cell count."

The first picture shows the smaller of the twin boys, Isaac, holding dad Jeremy's finger. Grandma Kim asks for prayers for the little guys, especially Isaac, and says, "Overall they are looking good."

Speaking of Twins. Wednesday is the birthday of two other twins in our larger family: Susan Clark Cox and Amanda Clark Farrell who were born the 25th of April, 32 years ago. Susan and husband Andrew live in Lubbock, Texas with their two children (and are expecting their 3rd in June!). Amanda and husband Chris live in the Dallas area. Susan and Amanda are daughters of Jerry Clark and Jane Clark Brock, both of Lubbock, Texas.

Amanda: "All is well here at the Farrell house in Texas! How did we get to be in our 30's already? Chris and I purchased our first home in January! We tackled home ownership and a remodel all in the same process - but it turned out to be worthwhile! Home ownership is a lot of work but also a lot of fun! The attached picture was taken in our backyard - the roses are still blooming!

"Workwise we are both staying very busy! In all the busyness it seems this birthday caught me off guard - how is it already April!? We don't have big birthday plans, just dinner at my favorite sushi restaurant with a few close friends and maybe another simple family dinner during the week. In May we will be taking a week of vacation to Puerto Rico so I will count that as my birthday celebration, Puerto Rican style!"

Best wishes to these Texas birthday girls and the family of the new Missouri birthday boys!

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

A 70th Anniversary, April 20, 2012

Parents can only give good advice
or put their children on the right paths,
but the final forming of a person's character
lies in their own hands.
~Anne Frank
Hello Family and Friends,

Greetings to all of you from Oak Harbor, Washington, where Cindy and I are enjoying family here and in nearby Anacortes, Washington.

This month we remember the birthday of my grandmother Nola Shannon Gower who died here in Western Washington back in 2004 at 102 years old. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the move she and her husband Leroy Gower made to San Diego in 1942 -- a move that was as challenging and difficult as it was significant. (See first picture of Leroy and Nola Gower in 1972.)
Nola and Leroy were originally from Stone County, Arkansas, but had lived in Okemah, Oklahoma for 16 years before they migrated to San Diego as a young family. When they arrived in California, she was 39; he was 42. It was the last major move they would ever make together.

As with many other migrant families who moved westward, they made the move in stages. First Leroy and their son Hendrix and his wife Starlene came to San Diego to get settled and find jobs before sending for the others. It did not take long for Nola and her 2 daughters back in Oklahoma to get word that the men were employed by the Railway Express and they should join them in California.
My mother -- a senior in High School at the time -- recalls that it was in January of 1942 that she, her mother Nola and her 9 year old sister Melva (Vicki) made the arduous, 1,400 mile bus ride from Okemah to join the others in San Diego. (See second picture from 2002 of my mother Maida and her sister Vicki.) While Okemah was a small struggling town where Leroy could not find steady work, San Diego was a bustling, booming military city, full of war time vitality where jobs were plentiful.

With the exception of Nola's last few years, she and Leroy spent the rest of their lives in San Diego. It was a good family decision they made to move in 1942. They found jobs, made a decent living, enjoyed the mild climate, and bought a home on Lynne Street in East San Diego that was the hub of their family's life for 50 years.

Their 12 grandchildren were raised in San Diego, and most of them were born there. Their family that had numbered just 6 when they arrived in 1942, blossomed into a clan of 33 members by the time Leroy died in the mid 1970s. Over the last 35 years, however, some of them have died while others have moved away to Western Washington, Tennessee, Arizona or elsewhere in California.

A few of us descendants of Leroy and Nola still live in the San Diego area -- me, Shaun Gower, and Autumn and Amber Gower. It is, of course, a very different place now than it was all those years ago, but the Gower presence is still felt, and the memory of that wonderful couple remains.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Happy Doings In Seattle, April 13, 2012

There's no vocabulary
For love within a family, love that's lived in
But not looked at, love within the light of which
All else is seen, the love within which
All other love finds speech.
This love is silent.
~"Silent Love"
by T.S. Elliot

Hello Family and Friends,

Happy Friday the 13th to all of you from Alameda, California where Cindy and I are in the midst of a travel day to visit family here, and then later today to visit family in the great Northwest.

We just had a Friday the 13th back in January, and here we are with another one already, a day that many people consider the unluckiest of all. If you are among those who consider this an especially bad day, you can take some comfort in the results of a study that was done not long ago. Researchers discovered that, in fact, FEWER mishaps and unlucky occurrences take place on Friday the 13th. They postulate that people generally tend to be more careful on this day, knowing that bad things might happen!

Happy Birthday Rachel! Tomorrow April 14, is the birthday of my niece Rachel Jane Shepard of Kirkland, Washington. Rachel is the sister of Patrick Shepard (see first picture of the two of them) who was married about 2 weeks ago in Mexico. Rachel and her brother Christopher were among those who attended the wedding and shared in the week long festivities in Cancun last month. Rachel lives in Kirkland, Washington and works in the senior housing industry. Congratulations and best wishes to Rachel who turns 25 tomorrow!

Congratulations Pat and Nicole! Tomorrow is also the day of the wedding reception for Rachel's brother Patrick Shepard and his bride Nicole Haw Shepard. Since they had a destination wedding in Mexico, they decided to do something special for their larger family, hence the reception in the Seattle area tomorrow.

The second picture shows the Shepard members of the wedding party in Cancun, Mexico, March 28. From left to right are brother Christopher, mother Mary, the bride Nicole Haw, the groom Patrick, sister Rachel and father Darrell Shepard.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Happy Easter Tomorrow! April 7, 2012

The resurrection gives my life meaning
and direction and the opportunity to start over
no matter what my circumstances.
~Robert Flatt

Hello Family and Friends,

Greetings to all of you yet a third time on this week of Easter. Please bear with me. I promise that this amount of clutter in your email inbox will not happen on a regular basis.

Happy Easter Day tomorrow to everyone! May it be a wonderful day of family gatherings, a celebration of spring, and a time to remember the meaning of Jesus' resurrection.

The first picture I am including today was taken Easter Sunday, 2006 in the Murphys Hotel in Murphys, California. It shows me on the left, next to our son Nathan, with Jerry Clark on the right. In front is Jerry's daughter Amanda Clark Farrell with Cindy on the right. At the time of this photo we were living at our mountain house and I was the minister of a church in the town of Murphys. Jerry and Amanda were visiting us from Texas for the special weekend. 

Happy Anniversary! This blog post is also coming to you today in celebration of the wedding anniversary of Jerry and Cathrina Helms Clark of Lubbock, Texas. Tomorrow it will be 6 years to the day since Jerry and Cat were married in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Congratulations to them and best wishes for many more happy years together.

The second picture I am including today shows Jerry and Cathrina in a pose befitting their anniversary. It was taken last summer when the four of us were vacationing in Italy. Behind this happy couple are the ancient ruins of Ostia Antica outside Rome.
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Wednesday, April 04, 2012

An Ounce of Blood, April 4, 2012

An ounce of blood is worth more
than a pound of friendship.
~Spanish proverb

Hello Family and Friends,

Greetings for a second time during this week of Easter as we celebrate important events in the life of our family.  

Happy Birthday James! Birthday wishes today go out to James Sauvage, husband of my niece Kelly Shepard Sauvage. James came into our family 11 years ago when he and Kelly were married in San Diego. They now live in Weatherford, Texas with their 2 sons Nate and Kyle.

Happy Birthday Jim Gower! Another "Jim birthday" in our family today on April 4 is that of my cousin Jim Gower, whose date of birth, 4-4-44, has always made his birthday easy to remember. He is the second child of my aunt and uncle Hank and Starlene Gower and the second grandchild of Leroy and Nola Shannon Gower. 

Jimmie was born and raised in San Diego but lives today with his wife Cheryl (see first picture) in Fort Mojave, Arizona, along the Colorado River. Jim and Cheryl are the parents of one son, Tim, who teaches and coaches at North Monterey County High School in Castroville, California. They are also the proud grandparents of Tim's one son, Dane Gower, who turns 11 this year.

The second picture taken in San Diego, is an oldie from about 1947 and shows Jimmie on the left with his older brother Hershell and their grandmother Nola Gower. Jimmie and Hershell were both born in San Diego during WWII and were the first two of the 12 grandchildren of Nola and her husband Leroy Gower. Nola was a 44 year old grandmother of 3 at the time (Gary Shepard being the 3rd grandchild) and is dressed in this picture, along with her grandboys, as if this might have been Easter Sunday. Nola and Leroy were regular in attendance at the Balboa Park Baptist Church in San Diego.

Happy Birthday today, to Ciara Ortiz! Ciara is the first born of Jeremy and Desiree Ortiz of Blue Springs, Missouri. She is also the first grandchild of Kim Boyd Clark, and the first Ggrandchild of Terry and Thelma Shepard Boyd of Gallup, New Mexico. This, of course, makes Ciara one of the GGgrandchildren of Will and Bura Davis Shepard.

The third picture shows birthday girl Ciara with her sister Ashlyn on the right, and her 3rd cousin Emma Wilk on the left.

Mom Desiree: Ciara will be turning 10 this Wednesday, April 4! She sure is growing fast! Time goes by so fast when you are a parent :) Ciara will be celebrating her birthday here in Missouri with family at her favorite BBQ restaurant, Famous Dave's!

Best wishes to these three and their families as they celebrate these milestones in their lives.
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Monday, April 02, 2012

The Love of Parents, April 2, 2012

We never know the love of our parents for us
until we become parents ourselves.
~Henry Ward Beecher

Hello Family and Friends,

Greetings to all of you on this Monday of Holy Week, with Easter Sunday coming up this weekend. It is a busy week in our scattered larger family, with a number of family celebrations in the next several days, so you will hear from me a couple of times before Easter arrives.

Happy Birthday to Nathan! Tomorrow - April 3 - is the 35th Birthday of our son Nathan Shepard of Alameda, California. Nate's birthday has often occurred right around Easter, as it does this year.

With me being a minister, through the years it was often challenging to balance our celebration of his birthday with my church responsibilities. We should have known what to expect when he chose to arrive early in the morning on a very memorable Palm Sunday in 1977 in San Diego. In 1988 we celebrated his 11th birthday on Easter Sunday in Palo Alto, California, where we lived at the time (see first picture of Cindy and Nate and me on that particular occasion).

Nate has lived in the Bay Area for most of his life, graduated from Gunn High School in Palo Alto, and presently works for Wells Fargo Bank in San Francisco. He and his wife Chenda are the parents of two beautiful children, Preslea and Logan, and will welcome a third child into their family this summer. Nathan stays busy with his work at the bank, but still finds time to work out at the gym, play hockey regularly, and enjoys spending time being a father to his children.

The second picture shows Nathan helping his daughter Preslea learn how to ride her new bicycle. Her stern face notwith- standing, Preslea loves her new bike, almost as much as Nathan loves teaching her to ride it!

1940 In The News. Today, April 2, the National Archives will release information obtained in the 1940 U.S. Federal Census, information that has by law been kept confidential until today. It is an exciting time for people interested in family history., where information from my family research is cataloged, is busy "around the clock", they say, assimilating more than one billion bits of new information regarding births, marriages, deaths, and military records from that period of time. What exactly the 1940 Census will tell us about our particular family remains to be seen. 

1940 was an important time in the life of our parents and grandparents. My Shepard grandparents moved from Colorado to San Diego that very year. My Gower grandparents moved from Oklahoma to San Diego just two years later. I look forward to sharing in this blog new information and insights that may come from the release of this wealth of information.
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