Friday, November 28, 2008

Shepard Family Update, Nov 28, 2008

Families are like fudge -
mostly sweet with a few nuts.
- author unknown

Hello Shepard Family and Friends,

Hello from San Diego on this week of Thanksgiving. I hope your Thanksgiving was pleasant and joyful. Our family had gatherings yesterday all over the country -- from Northern and Southern California, to Washington, Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma, and even Utah. And probably elsewhere! (If you took a picture of your family yesterday, email it to me. It might find its way into a family email!)

I am grateful that in the midst of our diverse lives we can celebrate the family we are, and find meaning in the relationships we share and the family history that binds us together.

The first picture I am including today I found in the photo archives of my mom some months ago, and I do not know the circumstances or the location, although it was probably taken in San Diego. The back of the photo says December, 1982. It shows a proud uncle Darren Boyd holding his nephew Jeremy Ortiz, Kim Clark's oldest son, when Jeremy was 2.

The second picture was taken earlier this year and shows birthday kids Kim Clark and her grandson Damian Ortiz, Jeremy and Desiree Ortiz's youngest son, who will turn 2 tomorrow. Grandma Kim and young Damian share Nov 29 as their birthday, and will celebrate tomorrow at a family gathering at a restaurant in La Mesa. Happy Birthday to both of you! Kim and husband Jeff are in the San Diego area visiting from Blue Springs, Missouri.

Damian, at 2 years old, is the youngest of the 8 great, great, grandchildren of Will and Bura Shepard. The other seven are Lyndsey and Mandi Aquiningoc, Nate and Kyle Sauvage (Weatherford, Texas), Ciara and Ashlyn Ortiz (El Cajon, Ca), and Emma Wilk (Atchison, Kansas). What an impressive group! And they are just the beginning of this 4th generation after Gram and Grandad.

The latest news on Mary Shepard in the Seattle area is that her cancer surgery was very successful. It appears that no chemo will be needed and the expectation is that there will be no recurrence of the cancer. Thanksgiving had very special meaning for them yesterday.

A reminder: in a few weeks Dane Shepard needs to set the date for the family reunion next summer in Oklahoma. Let him know if you have a preference between the three dates that he has suggested: June 20 or 27 or July 18, 2009.
Steve (one of the nuts in the family fudge)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Shepard Family Update, Nov 21, 2008

Hello Shepard Family and Friends,

Hello from San Diego, California where Cindy and I have just moved. We are still figuring out what to do in our retirement, but for now it will mean having our primary residence here in the city where we grew up. Cindy says, "Retirement is a hoot!" Our email addresses will remain the same, as will our cell phones, for now.

It is the week before Thanksgiving and I am grateful for several things: I am thankful that Mary Shepard's surgery earlier this week in Seattle was successful. Darrell reports that the doctor felt everything went as well as could be expected. More will be known next week, but for now the news is good.

I am also thankful that Dane Shepard is willing to host our next family reunion in Oklahoma next summer. He is still waiting to hearing from us, if we have a preference among the possible days he is suggesting for the reunion, which are June 20, 27 or July 18 -- all Saturdays in 2009.

I am also grateful that Dane has spent time recently scanning some old family pictures, and passing them on. Both pictures I am including today I received from him recently.

The first picture is a gem, a newly scanned old photo, taken on Thanksgiving Day 55 years ago in Alpine, California, just east of San Diego. It shows 4 Shepard cousins, from left to right: Dane, Linda, Steve (me), and Gary. (Gary, please tell us what were you so happy about. You look like the cat that swallowed the canary!) Dane's parents, Elmer and Beryl, lived in Alpine for a few years in the early 1950s, an enjoyable place where the family occasionally gathered for holidays.

The second picture is of 90 year old Elmer Shepard, taken earlier this month with his son Dane, Dane's wife Cindy (Saunders), and their children Nathan and Kaylan. In an email I received from Dane, he refers not only to this picture, but also to Aunt Margie Millikan who passed away recently. He also answers the trivia question I raised last week in reference to the picture of Gram and Aunt Margie.

"In answer to your trivia question, the photographer was probably using a box camera [a "Brownie"] which had a viewing window in the upper right corner on TOP of the box which you held at waist level and looked down on. I still have one, and as a teenager I experimented with one using it for timed and multiple exposures. Dad said that when living in Two Buttes he received one when Kodak distributed box cameras to all 12 year olds. He didn't know if this was nation wide.

"I was sorry to hear
of Aunt Margie passing away as I hadn't had the opportunity of locating her in Tulsa (two hours away). It would have been good to have seen her.

"I have also included a Veteran's Day picture of us with Elmer holding a picture taken in Lincoln, Neb. in 1945, right before he was discharged. Shortly after his discharge, he took the train from Omaha to Tulsa to visit with Margie and family. He had obtained a private pilot's license and took Margie and her son Jack for a plane ride."

Thanks so much, Dane, for these interesting historical notes.

Everyone have a wonderful Thanksgiving this coming week, wherever you are and with whomever you will gather. Thank God for the family we are, the relationships we share, and the ties that bind us.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Shepard Family Update, Nov 14

If you look deeply into the palm of your hand,
you will see your parents and all generations of your ancestors.

All of them are alive in this moment.

Each is present in your body.

You are the continuation of each of these people.

- Thich Nhat Hanh

Hello Shepard Family and Friends,

Good morning from the cool mountains of Northern California, where the nights are getting cold and the days are brisk, and the sunshine reminds me that life is good and always to be celebrated.

Cousin Dane Shepard has suggested three possible dates for the family reunion next summer in Oklahoma: June 20 or 27, or July 18. Which of those three Saturdays will work best for you? Let Dane ( know your preference among those three -- if you have one -- so that he can set the date and we can all begin our planning. Or let me know and I can pass the word to him. He wants to set a date by the end of the year.

This Sunday is the anniversary of the birthday of John Pouty Williams, an ancestor with the common name for our family, William, but with an unusual middle name of Pouty, a name not found among any other relative. He was born 202 years ago, in 1806, and lived just long enough to witness the arrival into the world of his great granddaughter, Bura Davis. He is our reminder that we each carry some "longevity genes" within us. He died at the ripe old age of 92 (VERY old for that day) in Spencer, Indiana, shortly after Gram's first birthday. Since Gram was born in that same little town southwest of Indianapolis, I would like to think that this aging nanogenarian had the opportunity to bounce baby Bura on his knees sometime before he died. Bura was his great granddaughter by way of his youngest daughter Maggie Williams (John Pouty and his wife Sarah had 9 other children before Maggie!). Maggie's picture appears in the post of June 20, 2008 of this blog.

Maggie's granddaughter Bura Davis was the oldest of 7 children, all born in Spencer, Indiana. I have shared before that the family migrated to Beaver County, Oklahoma in 1912 when Gram was only 15. At the time her youngest sibling Marjorie was only 4 years old. What you may not know is that "Aunt Margie" outlived all her siblings and died just last Thursday in Tulsa Oklahoma at the age of 100. So while John Pouty's life of 92 years spanned nearly the entire 19th century, his great granddaughter Margie's life of 100 years spanned nearly the entire 20th century.

The quote above from Thich Nhat Hanh speaks of the ways that our ancestors impact the lives we live today, especially our physical lives. I am grateful for the lives of John Pouty and Bura and Marjorie, whose combined 282 years carry with it the promise of long life for us, their descendants, if we take care of ourselves.

The first picture I am including today is a picture of Gram with 2 of her 4 sisters, Winona on the left and Marjorie in the middle. The picture was taken in November, 1957 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Here is the obituary of Gram's sister Marjorie Davis, the last of her generation, from last Sunday's edition of the Tulsa World.

Marjorie [Davis] Millikan Williams, 100, passed peacefully from this life November 6, 2008. This special person will be forever remembered in the hearts of her family and her friends. She was born December 27, 1907, in Spencer, Indiana. Her family moved to Beaver County, OK in 1912. She, John, and their sons moved to Tulsa in 1942. She was preceded in death by her husband, John Millikan (after 41 years of marriage); husband, A. C. Williams (after 12 years of marriage); son James Brooks Millikan; daughter-in- law Ila Millikan and 6 siblings [including Bura Davis]. In her early years she taught school, farmed, became "Rosie the Riveter" during WWII, was an LPN nurse, and sold real estate. She was a life-long member of the Church of Christ, and one of the joys of her life was teaching third-grade Sunday School class for 52 years. She won many blue ribbons at the Tulsa State Fair with her various entries. Survived by: sons and their wives, Arlen Millikan; Gary and Barbara Millikan; Jack and Karen Millikan; step-sons and their wives, Wayne and Rosie Williams, Don and Yvonne Williams; Bill and Mary Williams; 4 grandchildren; 7 great-grandchildren; 2 great- great-grandchildren. A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m., Friday, November 14th at the Memorial Drive Church of Christ. Interment at Memorial Park.

Do you see the shadow of the photographer in the picture above? Here is a trivia question for today: From the position of the elbows of the photographer, it appears that the camera is being held at about stomach level rather than in front of the photographer's face. Why? (I will give you the answer next week. )

The second picture I am including today shows the birthday girl from last month, Kori Lynn Boyd, with her mom Vicki and dad Darren, and her older sister Courtney and older brother Brandyn. They all live in Lakeside, California. Darren is Terry and Thelma's son.

I received an email from Mary Shepard this past week that I would like to pass on to you: "Thanks for all of the prayers, I really feel that the power of prayer is working. I went for my pre-op appointment with my surgeon yesterday and felt a shield of comfort when we were talking. My surgery is scheduled for 7:30 am on Monday the 17th of this month. I check in at 6am, so please do pass the word and let everyone know how appreciative I am and how loved I feel. Thanks."

Our prayers continue for Mary and her family as she prepares for her surgery in Seattle this coming Monday.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Shepard Family Update, November 7, 2008

To put the world in order, we must first put the nation in order;
to put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order;
to put the family in order, we must first cultivate our personal life;
and to cultivate our personal life, we must first set our hearts right.

- Confucius

Hello Shepard Family and Friends,

Hello on a wonderful Friday in San Diego where this week's email originates. The election is over and there are no more political phone calls or commercials on TV. Praise be to God!

Tomorrow is the 112th anniversary of the birthday of Bura Davis, who died 22 years ago. She, of course, along with her husband William Shepard, form the couple who is at the heart of this family blog. All of us are their descendants, or family or friends of their descendants. I am sure you share with me a deep appreciation for the lives of these two and the values they taught us. They were not perfect people -- none of us are! -- but we can be grateful for the legacy of love they left us.

Gram was a slight woman all her life -- I bet she never weighed over 110 lbs, maybe not even that much -- but she had a big heart, and was without a doubt the spiritual center of her family. I was her fourth grandchild, born when she was only 51. She was the bearer of the religious torch for our Shepard family. She was proud of the fact that her parents and grandparents had been good Church of Christ members as far back as anyone could remember, probably to the very beginnings of the "Restoration Movement" of early 19th century America. I have heard that William Shepard even met her at the South Flat Church of Christ near Elmwood, Oklahoma, sometime before 1915, when they were married there.

It is hard to imagine the impact on her of the changes that occurred in her family and in her world during her lifetime (1896 to 1986). Had she or Grandad lived until today, the election of Barack Obama, the first black American to become president, would certainly have left them absolutely astounded, perhaps even dismayed! I always had the impression though, that Gram accepted the cultural changes she experienced with grace and strength, even though with some misgivings. She was serious and caring, and not a gregarious woman, and was characterized by the stoicism of mid-America, having been raised a Hoosier. She did have a sense of humor, and I can still recall that unique laugh of hers. Grandad was the man of the family, and was the funny one of the two, but she was as steady as the rock of Gibraltar.

I still sometimes find it hard to believe that she has been gone for over 20 years, and Grandad for over 30 years. To put things in perspective, nearly half of our present family was born since Grandad passed away.

The first picture I am including today shows Bura (Gram) as a young mother of 22. This picture was taken in 1919, when Woodrow Wilson was nearing the end of his second term as President. She and Grandad had been married about 4 years and had two children at the time, Pauline and Elmer, who are in the picture with her. It is not the best quality picture, but beggars can't be choosers when it comes to photos this old! And it certainly does not flatter her. But it does show her love for her family and her background presence, where she usually made the biggest impact. After all, women did not even have the right to vote in the U.S. until the year after this picture was taken!

Okay, trivia question for this election week... Who was president of the U.S. when Bura Davis (Gram) was BORN? Think about it for a moment before reading on.

While you are thinking, let me say that the second picture I am including today shows my musical brother Darrell Shepard. Did you know that he is part of a band known as "Midlife Chrysler"? Visit their website to find out more about them and their schedule.

The picture is actually two pictures in one: the left half of the picture shows him way before the term "mid-life" was even in his vocabulary, much less part of the name for his band. It may have been taken when he was a student at Abilene Christian University. He will have to confirm that for me. The right half of the picture shows him just a few years ago. (Around the one and only time that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were in the Super Bowl.)

Did you think about the trivia question above? Here is the answer: Democrat Grover Cleveland was the lame duck president on Gram's birthday, Nov 8, 1896. BUT Republican William McKinley was "President-elect." He had won the presidency just 5 days before she was born.

On the day of her birth, I wonder if THEY were glad there were no more political commercials on TV!? ;-)

One last bit of trivia, and the final presidential comment: 4 years to the day before Gram was born, incumbent President Benjamin Harrison was defeated in his bid for re-election. Harrison was the only Church of Christ member (he was even a minister!) to ever be president of the United States.
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