Thursday, February 14, 2019

Happy Valentine's Day! February 14, 2019

The greatest thing
you'll ever learn
is just to love,
and be loved in return.
-eden ahbez

Happy Valentine's Day! Today is one of the happiest and most family-friendly days of the entire year. It is a day all about love, which is what our families -- when we are at our best -- are all about. My wish for all of you is that you will feel the love of friends and family this year like never before. And that you will share the love as well!

Grandmother Nola Gower (left) celebrating 
with Gloria Harrell Watson in the 1990s
Show Me The Love. For the last several years I have given a "Show Me The Love Award" on Valentine's Day to a person in our family, from the present or the past, who has exemplified love in a remarkable way. Our family is a mixed bag, of course, as are all families. Our family tree includes some infamous people who were less than reputable. I have told some of their stories in this blog. They have been worth telling simply to remind us that families are not always full of wonderful people. Fortunately we have many family members, past and present, who do show us in a unique way what family love and devotion are all about. For them we will always be eternally grateful. Their stories are a joy to tell and will continue to be a staple for my posts here in The Shepard's Crook.

In the Valentine's Day posts for the last several years I have made a point of honoring people in our family tree who exemplified love. They have included people such as Gloria Harrell Watson (pictured above, whose 66th birthday would have been yesterday), and well as my mother Maida Shepard. Previous recipients have also included lesser known people from long ago like my 3x Great Grandfather Richard Gray who showed incredible family love and devotion during the Civil War. The stories of their exemplary love need to be told and retold.

Nathan Ross Shepard and Kara Ward
A Uniquely Qualified Choice. This year's "Show Me The Love Award" goes to one of the younger members of our family: Nathan Ross Shepard. He is the 23 year old son of my cousin Dane Shepard and his wife Cindy of Blanchard, Oklahoma and a graduate of Florida College in Temple Terrace, Florida. Nathan and his fiancĂ© Kara are getting married tomorrow, making him a uniquely qualified choice for this award. He wrote to me recently and said, "Oh thank you so much! It’s great to hear from you! My fiance's name is Kara Ward and she’s from Athens, Alabama. We are getting married in Webster, Florida and will be honeymooning in Orlando! We plan to visit Harry Potter world while we are there! Hope you are well otherwise!"

It has been a while since we have had a wedding in our larger family. Especially one that appears to be as conventional, beautiful and exciting as the wedding of Nathan and Kara. They even have a website about their wedding! There is little doubt that weddings are changing dramatically these days, in some ways for the better. Even so I find it very encouraging to learn of Nathan and Kara's love and their willingness to devote themselves to each other in marriage.

Congratulations to Nathan and Kara and best wishes to both of them for a bright future together. We wish them and their families the very best.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Saturday, February 02, 2019

Ground Hog Day, February 2, 2019

Retirement is when you stop living at work
and begin working at living.

Greetings to all of you from cold, dreary, rainy San Diego on this Ground Hog Day 2019! Ground Hog Day happens to be the very midpoint of winter. Best wishes to all of you who live in places that are experiencing some harsh freezing winter weather. The harsher the weather today, the earlier the good weather of spring, right? We'll see.

Cindy A. Shepard's Birthday and Retirement! Congratulations to Cindy A. Shepard (my brother Gary's wife) whose milestone birthday is today. Cindy and Gary live in Oak Harbor, Washington and are among the Shepard family members who are providing care and support to our 94 year old mother Maida Shepard in Anacortes, Washington.

Cindy A. Shepard (left) 
with Maida Shepard and Gary Shepard
Cindy has been anxiously looking forward to this birthday for a long time. Back in 2003 after Gary retired from the County of San Diego, the two of them moved from Southern California to Western Washington to be with family. At the time our father Eugene Shepard was very ill, and as it turned out, would only live a few more months. Cindy has worked at Schenk Packing Company in Mount Vernon for over 15 years, ever since they relocated to Washington. Today she retires from the working life, and begins a new chapter in her and Gary's life as they celebrate the joy and freedom of retirement. Congratulations to Cindy and best wishes to her and Gary in this next chapter of their lives!

On the right is a family picture showing retiree Cindy Shepard bottom left, with our mother Maida Shepard on the right and Cindy's husband Gary Shepard behind Maida. Also pictured in the back are friends and family Vicki, Barbara, Pam and Steven Paul. This picture was taken at the family home on Wildwood Lane in Anacortes.

Remembering William Elmer Shepard (1862-1915). Today is also a day for remembering my Great Grandfather William Elmer Shepard. He was born on this wintry February day in 1862, 157 years ago, in the midst of the Civil War. Ironically it was also in February, 1862 that William Elmer's father William Shepard was injured in a Civil War battle in Bowling Green, Kentucky. He was taken to a military hospital in Evansville, Indiana where he languished for 5 months before finally succumbing July 22, 1862. Great Grandfather William Elmer never got to know his father, probably never even met him. That sad reality may have contributed to William Elmer's bitter conflict as a teenager with his mother and step-father, a conflict that led to his estrangement from them for the rest of his life. On the upside, young William Elmer married Elvira Owens in Madison, Illinois and together they made a family of their own that eventually settled in Beaver County, Oklahoma.

On the left is a picture of William Elmer Shepard's grave in Sophia Cemetery in Beaver County, Oklahoma. This headstone says that William Elmer was born February 5, 1862. But my records from family members say that he was born February 2, 1862. It is a minor point to be sure, but it does illustrate how there are discrepancies in the historical record occasionally, and we simply do our best to sort it out, sometimes without great certainty.

On this day of remembering his birth, we honor Great Grandfather William Elmer Shepard and his unique life as a fatherless Civil War victim, a runaway, a pioneer, and a hardworking family man. It is hard to imagine the heartbreak, the struggles, the family dysfunction of his early life, and the adversity he encountered in his 53 years, but through it all he endured. Between the families and descendants of his two children, William Shepard and Sadie Shepard Pruett, there are over 150 people today who can be proud to count him among their ancestors.
- - -
Steve Shepard