Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Human Soul Is Apt to Revive, March 31, 2016

The beautiful spring came;
and when Nature resumes her loveliness,
the human soul is apt to revive also.
~Harriet Ann Jacobs

Greetings to all of you from the beautiful Yucca Valley near Palm Springs, here in Southern California, home of Joshua Tree National Park where we and our family are enjoying spring break. Springtime in the desert is remarkably beautiful, with lots of color that will gone in just a fews months. It is a place and a time where "the human soul is apt to revive."

Our trip is something of a strange hybrid of comfortable Motel stays, and some not quite so comfortable nights in the tent sleeping on the ground. At the very least it will be a memorable event for the grandkids. It reminds me of times when our dad Eugene Shepard took us camping in the mountains or near the coast, simple family experiences forming memories that will last a lifetime.

This first picture (above), taken yesterday in Black Rock Canyon, shows Cindy with Preslea and William Shepard, on the crest of a hill, waving to their parents a few hundred yards below. 

Happy Birthday Joan! Today is the birthday of my cousin Joan Shepard, the 8th of the 12 Grandchildren of William and Bura Davis Shepard. Originally from San Diego, Joan and her wife Dee Shannon live in Dixon, California.

Joan: "Spring has arrived with sunshine and rain. We actually have green foliage and bright blossoms after a long  drought. Dee and I also have a sweet grandson who is nearly four months. Calvin lives a couple hours away with his parents. We don't see him as much as we would like because of our jobs. Dee and I both work in education; she's an academic adviser at UC Davis and I'm a high-school teacher in our small town. 

In addition to our grandson, we added another member to our family -- a rescue puppy! She's making great progress after a rough start in life. Havilah and Kevin, our Utah family, are working hard yet enjoying the beautiful countryside there. I can't wait to visit with them this summer. We all are wishing everyone well!"

Joan has always been an animal lover. This last picture was probably taken sometime in the 1960s and shows Joan sitting on some steps, more than likely in San Diego, enjoying the company of two friendly critters.
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Steve Shepard

Saturday, March 26, 2016

A Heritage of Great Diversity, March 26, 2016

We need to cherish and preserve
the ethnic and cultural diversity
that nourishes and strengthens
this community - and this nation.
~Cesar Chavez

Today is our Granddaughter Preslea's 6th Birthday. Born in San Francisco, she is in Kindergarten in San Diego and enjoying it thoroughly. She lives with her family in the San Carlos neighborhood of San Diego and loves swimming, drawing, monkey bars, school and church friends, Equestria Girls, and slurpies.

Preslea's heritage is an interesting one. She is, of course, one of the Great Great Grandchildren of both William and Bura Davis, as well as Leroy and Nola Shannon Gower, the two couples whose lives and descendants are the usual focus of this blog. 

But Preslea's ancestry also includes the Native American heritage of her Grandmother Cindy Shepard and her Great Grandmother Harris. (See picture of Preslea with her two American Great Grandmothers, Paula Hicks Harris and Maida Gower Shepard.) In particular Preslea's Native American heritage is the Chickasaw Indians of Oklahoma who before that were from Mississippi. Her 5X Great Grandmother was Lucy Hawkins Newberry who, born in Mississippi in 1824 was part of the historic "trail of tears" as a child that forced her people to settle in Oklahoma where she died in 1907.

Preslea's heritage also includes Cambodia, the home of her mother Chenda Sou Shepard who came to the U.S. in 2009. Preslea's Cambodian Grandfather was Sou Penh (1945-2014) whose father was Sou Shen, an immigrant to Cambodia from China. In Cambodia her Sou Grandparents suffered through the "Killing Fields" of the ruthless Khmer Rouge Government in the late 20th century.

Preslea's family heritage is amazingly diverse, far beyond the majority of us whose ancestry has been rooted primarily in this county for the last several hundred years. Best wishes to Preslea for a very happy birthday! The following is a slide show that celebrates her 6th Birthday.

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Steve Shepard

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Springtime Celebrations, March 23, 2016

Spring is nature's way of saying,
"Let's party!"
~Robin Williams

Greetings to all on this first week of Spring, 2016! 

Birthday Wishes to Gary Shepard. Happy Birthday today to my brother Gary of Oak Harbor, Washington. He is the first of the 6 children who were born to Eugene and Maida Gower Shepard. Gary was born in San Diego the year after his parents were married there in 1945. He is also the first of the grandchildren of William and Bura Shepard to be born in California.

Gary and his wife Cindy enjoy the quiet life in their peaceful forested community just outside the town of Oak Harbor, which is not too far from where our mom Maida Shepard lives in Anacortes, Washington. At least their neighborhood is usually quiet. Last week their property became just a little less forested when a windstorm brought down one of the tall trees around their home. Their house was not hit but both their cars were damaged, Gary's car being a total loss. It was not the kind of birthday present he was looking for!

"It Took Only 70 Years To Get This Good Looking." The first picture was taken last Saturday at the 70th birthday celebration we had for Gary at their church in Anacortes. It was a party that included family, neighbors and church friends. In this picture is Gary flanked by his mom Maida on the right, and his sister Barbara on the left.

The second picture was taken 35 years ago today, on March 23, 1981, on the day Gary turned 35 years old. On the left is our grandmother Nola Shannon Gower, in whose San Diego home on Lynne Street this picture was taken. Grandma was not quite 80 years old, and had been a widow for about 3 years. Next to her is Gary alongside his wife Cindy. At this particular time the two of them made their home in San Diego and had not yet celebrated their second wedding anniversary. In Cindy's lap is our young son Nathan Shepard (not to be confused with his second cousin Nathan Shepard pictured below). On the right is me in the big hair, matched by the big glasses.

Birthday wishes to Kaylan Shepard. Congratulations to Kaylan Shepard. Kaylan turned 17 years old this past weekend. She is the younger child of my cousin Dane and his wife Cindy Shepard of Blanchard, Oklahoma. Kaylan is the last of the 21 Great Grandchildren of William and Bura Shepard, and is the final descendant of theirs to be born in the 20th century. Originally from Anaheim, California, Kaylan has lived in Oklahoma now for most of her life.

Kaylan: Thank you for wishing me a happy birthday! My junior year has been extremely busy with school, volleyball, art, and college (I am taking a dual enrollment course at a community college nearby). Also, I just recently won first in a volleyball tournament. My birthday this year was the best yet because I had several friends from out of town come and visit. The weekend was a great adventure! Thank you for thinking of me, and I hope you have a wonderful day.

This third image shows Kaylan with her brother Nathan Shepard, in a picture posted on Facebook by their proud mother just last weekend.
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Steve Shepard

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Kiss Me I'm Irish! March 17, 2016

Kiss me and you will see how important I am.
~Sylvia Plath

Happy Saint Patrick's Day! As I have mentioned in this blog in the past, our family tree is loaded with Irish immigrants. I continue to add to the number of ancestors who came over from Ireland. Therefore this day and this post is an opportunity to celebrate our long, rich and illustrious Irish heritage.

A few weeks ago I included in this blog a post with a link to a YouTube slide show for Valentines Day. Unfortunately most of you were unable to view it, so I am including it again today in hopes that you can now view it after a few changes. The fact of the matter is that it may be as appropriate for St. Patrick's Day as it was for Valentine's Day.

Kiss Me, I'm Irish! I've titled the following slide show "Kiss Me I'm Irish" for reasons that will be obvious when you see it. You will see wedding day kisses, pecks on the cheek, baby smooches and some other crazy kisses that reflect well this diverse, oddball family to which we all belong. The pictures are of kids and adults, young parents and older lovers, wedding moments, birthday celebrations and everything in between. Each picture includes at least one member of our extended family. How many of these folks can you identify?

Enjoy this homage to love within our family, set to the music of k.d. lang -- herself of Irish ancestry -- singing a contemporary cover of an old classic. 

- - -
Steve Shepard

Saturday, March 12, 2016

A Memory No One Can Steal, March 12, 2016

Death leaves a heartache no one can heal,
love leaves a memory no one can steal.

-From an Irish headstone

Birthday Wishes to Russ and Steve. Happy birthday this Sunday to my brother Russ Shepard and his son Steven Paul Shepard, who were both born on March 13; Russ in 1962 in San Diego, Steve in 1990 in Anacortes.

Steven P. Shepard with Maida Shepard
Russ is the 6th child of Maida and Eugene Shepard and was raised in San Diego, but moved to Anacortes in the 1970s and has lived there ever since. Steve, born in 1990, is the first child of Russ and Pam Shepard of Anacortes, Wa, where Steve has lived his whole life.

This first picture, taken just a few months ago in Anacortes, shows Steven on the left with his grandmother Maida Shepard.

Kerri Shepard Aquiningoc. Celebrating a birthday earlier this month is Kerri Shepard Aquiningoc of Weatherford, Texas. She was born in Walled Lake, Michigan on March 3 to my brother Gary Shepard and his wife at the time Jackie. Kerri came to California as a baby and was raised here before moving to Weatherford, Texas where she still lives today.
Eugene and Maida Shepard Family

This second picture is an oldie which includes two of the birthday folks mentioned above, Russell Shepard and Kerri Shepard Aquiningoc. 

Taken in 1974 this image shows a gathering of all the members at the time of the family of Eugene and Maida Shepard. The picture was taken in the backyard of the San Diego home of Hendrix and Starlene Gower. In the front on the right are 12 year old Russ Shepard (in green) and 6 year old Kerri Shepard (in the long dress), who look more like brother and sister than uncle and niece. Also pictured from left to right are Kelly, Darrell, me, Cindy, Barbara, Jackie, Gary, Maida, Eugene and Jason.
Jerry Clark

Happy Birthday Jerry. Monday, March 14 is the birthday of Jerry Clark. Born in Albuquerque in the very middle of the last century, he and his wife Cathrina live today in Lubock, Texas. They enjoy life there as grandparents to about a dozen total grandkids. 

May She Rest In Peace: Gloria Harrell Watson (1953-2016). With sadness I report the untimely death of my cousin Gloria Harrell Watson. She passed away early this week in her apartment in Knoxville, Tennessee. Her mother is Vicki Gower Johnston of Chandler, Arizona, and her siblings are Paula Tuzzolino, Michael Harrell and David Harrell.

Gloria was born and raised in San Diego. She and Bill Watson were married in San Diego in December 1972, after which they moved to Knoxville, Tennessee. She is one of the 12 grandchildren of Leroy and Nola Shannon Gower. The only other one of those 12 to have passed away is my sister Linda Shepard who died in 1971 and who at the time was the wife of Jerry Clark mentioned above.

Gloria Watson, Nola Gower, Steve Shepard
This last picture was taken in 1993 in San Diego and shows Gloria on the left with her Grandmother Nola Shannon Gower and me on the right. Gloria was visiting San Diego from Tennessee at the time, taking care of Granda Gower, who was ready to undergo knee replacement surgery (at 90 years old!).

Our prayers and best wishes go out to the family of Gloria, especially her mother Vicki and her brothers David and Michael and her sister Paula.

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Steve Shepard