Friday, January 30, 2009

Shepard Family Update, January 30, 2009

Why study history?
There's no future in it.

-sign on a history professor's door

Dear Shepard Family and Friends,

Hello on the last Friday in January of this new year -- a year that I have yet to catch up to. Have you noticed that in each of the messages so far in this new year I have put the date 2008? (You didn't even notice, did you!) I think I am finally "with it" (at least as far as the calendar is concerned).

One of the dangers of genealogical study is that one gets so engrossed in the past, that the present and the future somehow slide to back burners. I remember a sign on a history professor's door at Abilene Christian, put there by some witty student. It said, "Why study history? There's no future in it!"

That makes for a good chuckle, but it's not really true. Especially when it comes to research into one's family. I love finding new information about our forefathers and foremothers. I enjoy remembering those family members who are now gone, whose lives overlapped with mine. I find it important to remember -- or discover -- their values, their commitments, their loyalties, their life choices, their mistakes, their strengths, their weaknesses, their disadvantages, and especially their courage. But to become so enthralled with their stories that we fail to live with courage in our lives is not only a mistake, it dishonors the legacy they have left us.

We are surrounded by "a great cloud of witnesses," who faced the challenges of their time with insight, and wisdom and daring. Now to be sure, sometimes they were not up to the task. But the wonderful thing is that sometimes they were. I find it very important to draw upon the best of our family legacy and to live a life that honors their spirit, and does not simply duplicate their particular choices. So as far as I am concerned, family research is valuable, and not just because it tells me about the past. More importantly it helps guide me into the future. But it will guide me well only as I learn from them how to face new challenges in new ways.

I hope that the younger ones of our family today will do exactly that in relationship to us who are older. They honor us best not by making the same choices we have made, but by living with faith and courage, with honesty and generosity, with love and open-mindedness.

This coming Tuesday, Feb 2 is, of course, Ground Hog Day, and the midpoint of winter. But of even greater importance, it is the birthday of Cindy Ann Dillon Shepard, who, along with her husband Gary, live in Oak Harbor, Washington. It is hard to believe that this June she will have been in our family for 30 years!

Cindy and Gary made their home in the San Diego area for the first 24 years of their married life. 6 years ago they sold their small business, Gary retired from his work with the County of San Diego, and they moved to Washington to be with family there. Cindy now commutes each day to work at Schenk Packing Company in Mount Vernon from their home near Oak Harbor on the northern end of Whidby Island. Happy Birthday Cindy!

The first picture I am including (as always, click on the picture for a larger view) shows birthday girl Cindy in the middle, with husband Gary on the left, me in the upper right, mother Maida on the far right, our son Nathan in the lower right, and Gary's daughter Kelly in the lower left. This picture was taken in October, 1981, in front of our home in Los Alamitos, California when we were getting ready to visit Disneyland.

This past weekend Cindy and I enjoyed a visit with Jerry Clark and some of his family from Lubbock, Texas. They were in San Diego for Taylor Publishing Company, for whom Jerry and Susan work. The second picture I am including shows the 7 of us as we enjoyed an underwater adventure at the Birch Aquarium in La Jolla. In the picture is Jerry and his wife Cathrina in the middle, his daughter Susan Clark Cox, and her husband Andrew and their son Drew on the left, and Cindy and me on the right.

Best wishes to all of you as you continue to cope with whatever winter weather comes your way. In just 6 more weeks spring will arrive!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Shepard Family Update, January 23, 2009

A family is a unit
composed not only of children
but of men and women,
an occasional animal,
and the common cold.
~Ogden Nash

Hello Shepard Family and Friends,

I hope that all is well with you and your part of our family, wherever you may be and whatever your particular sutuation is. Regardless of your political bent, it has been an exciting week for our nation. The inauguration of our 44th president, Barack Obama, has ushered in a new day with this historic election, and has brought with it a sense of renewed optimism and energy. Our Shepard ancestors have experienced American Presidencies back to the very beginning of our nation. They could not possibly have imagined the changes that we have seen in recent times. What would they have thought about the changes we see today?

Speaking of ancestors, this coming Tuesday is the anniversary of the birthday of Sadie J. Shepard Pruett, the sister of Grandad (William Shepard). Sadie was born during the leadership of our 23rd President Benjamin Harrison in 1892 in Alton, Illinois. Alton is in Madison County, Illinois, where our Shepard/Owens ancestors lived during the late 19th century. She was the second and last child of William Elmer Shepard and Elvira Owens. By the time she was 18 the family had moved to Oklahoma, which is where she met and married Levy Pruett with whom she had three daughters. Sadie lived in Oklahoma until her death in 1980.

Sadie Shepard Pruett represents a whole other side of our family that most of us know very little about, which is understandable. For one thing, none of that part of the family moved west to California when Gram and Grandad did in 1940. For another thing, none of them have the name Shepard, but instead have last names like Getz and Allred and Pruett.

One claim to fame from this part of our family: In 1983 Sadie's granddaughter Lisa Gayle Allred, living in Fort Worth at the time, won the Miss Texas beauty contest, and was the first runner-up in the Miss World Contest the same year.

The first picture I am including is a picture of Sadie and her husband Levy Pruett with Bura and (Sadie's brother) Will Shepard. The smiling tyke in front is Bura and Will's youngest child Thelma Shepard (now Boyd). The picture was taken in June, 1942. It appears to be taken in Beaver County Oklahoma. Will and Bura and their family were living in San Diego at the time, so this picture must have been taken while they were back in Oklahoma for a summer vacation.

The second picture shows a recent holiday scene of Elmer Shepard (on the right) and his son Dane, Dane's wife Cindy, and their children Nathan and Kaylan. Dane, of course, will be hosting the Shepard family reunion this summer. The reunion is not that far off -- Saturday, July 18 in Oklahoma City -- so clear your calendars and make your plans. More details will be forthcoming about the exact location, directions, housing possibilities, and other specifics. It will be a very special event and we hope you will make it!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Shepard Family Update, January 16, 2009

There is no doubt that it is around
the family and the home
that all the greatest virtues,
the most dominating virtues of human society,
are created, strengthened, and maintained.

~Winston Churchill

Hello Shepard Family and Friends,

It is good to be back home in San Diego, here in the "dead of winter" (yesterday it was about 80!). We had a wonderful time on our latest trip to Southeast Asia. The highlight was the opportunity to meet Nathan's fiance, Chenda, and to spend some time with both of them, seeing the sights of Cambodia. Chenda is a special young woman, very bright, speaks surprisingly good English, and has a great sense of humor. If you are interested you can see some pictures of our trip to Cambodia and Thailand by selecting this link.
You have not heard from me the last two weeks by email, but I did post two updates to this blog while I was away. If you did not read the posts the last two weeks, you can still read them and see the family pictures here.

This coming Wednesday, Jan 21, is Dane Shepard's birthday. Dane lives outside Oklahoma City with his wife Cindy, and their two children Nathan and Kaylan. Dane, the 6th of Will and Bura's 12 grandchildren, was born and raised in the San Diego area and lived most of his life in Southern California until moving to Oklahoma in 2006.

In an email not long ago Dane told me, "I retired from teaching 32 years in CA and am semi-retired here in Oklahoma, helping homeschool Nathan and Kaylan while working on hymnal and congregational song worship projects. We built a home and moved in last April [2007] but still have a few things to complete. We moved here because Cindy's parents and two sisters live here. Of course, I'm nearer Dad as well."

We are grateful that Dane has accepted the task of hosting our family reunion this coming summer, which will be on Saturday, July 18, 2009, in Oklahoma. I hope you will all make your plans to be with us as we gather to celebrate the family that we are. As the date draws near Dane will give us more details of the reunion.

The first picture I am including was taken about 1960, and shows Dane at the piano, where he spent endless hours as a youngster. And it paid off since he is now an accomplished musician, having taught music in public schools for many years. He still teaches music through workshops in church settings and has been working on converting a church hymnal, which he co-edited, into a paperless edition.
In the picture with Dane is his cousin Linda Shepard at the piano next to him (playing a piece for 4 hands?). Behind him is his aunt Pauline Russell and his uncle Eugene Shepard. In the back stand I. Also partly visible in the picture are Ellen Russell and Beryl Shepard. The setting seems to have been a small piano recital at Beryl and Elmer's home, just for our family.
Happy Birthday, Dane, and many happy returns of the day!

The second photo is a Christmas picture from this past December of James and Kelly Sauvage and their two sons Kyle (4) and Nate (6), of Weatherford, Texas. Kelly is Gary Shepard's younger daughter. Kyle and Nate are 2 of the 7 great great grandchildren of Will and Bura Shepard. Kelly works in the Career and Technology department of the Weatherford School District, and James works for a Cable Company near Weatherford.
Our sympathies and best wishes go out to Kim Clark and her family on the death of the mother of her late husband Gabe Ortiz. Gabe's mother died in Gallup, New Mexico a few days after Christmas.
Both of the pictures in this post bring to mind a timeless truth that is as important now as it was in 1960 -- or 1860, for that matter. It is the truth spoken best by Winston Churchill: "around the family and the home the most dominating virtues of human society, are created, strengthened, and maintained."

Friday, January 09, 2009

Shepard Family Update, January 9, 2009

If you don't believe in ghosts,
you've never been to a family reunion
~Ashleigh Brilliant

Hello Shepard Family and Friends,

We are not back yet from our trip to Southeast Asia, but through the miracle of the internet, this family message is coming to you nonetheless! I can give you a brief report of our trip and say that it has been an unforgettable experience. We have never been to Asia before, so our eyes have really been opened to life in a third world country.

I have a very high regard for this family of ours, and enjoy very much thinking about our family past and present, and sharing pictures old and new. Sometimes, however, I may inadvertently give the impression in these messages that family life is always wonderful and no problems ever arise for the best of families, including our own. I also may give the impression that our ancestors always acted with the noblest motives and were always wonderful people. But obviously that is not, and never has been, the case. The quote at the top of this message is a lighthearted way to get at that reality. We don't like to talk about it, but sometimes WITHIN family life the deepest pains are felt and the greatest heartaches are rooted.

Like most of you, I have known that for a long time, but it has been reinforced to me in the last year since I have been writing this family blog. I am grateful that even though this is the case on occasion, we can still find great meaning in the family relationships we cherish. So forgive me if at times I give an overly sentimental impression of family. The best families are not those with no problems, but those who deal with them in a healthy manner.

Tomorrow is the birthday of Mary (Medina) Shepard. The first picture I am including today is a picture of Mary with her younger son Patrick and her husband Darrell. Mary is originally from Chicago, and met Darrell at Abilene Christian university in Abilene, Texas.

This coming Wednesday is the birthday of Eric Russell, a long lost cousin of ours. Eric is the oldest great grandchild of Will and Bura Shepard. Last I heard he, his wife Ruth and his dad Rex were living in the Reno, Nevada area. One of these days I hope that we will make contact with them again. It has been several years since any of our family has heard from them.

The second picture shows the family of Eugene and Maida Shepard in 1975. This picture was taken in San Diego and shows all the members of this part of our family at the time.
From left to right on the back row are Cindy and Steve (no that's not a wig -- that how some of us wore our hair back then!), Darrell (no that's not a wig -- that how some of us wore our hair back then!), Barbara and Russell. On the front row are Gene and Maida, and Jackie and Gary. The children in front are Kerri, Kelly and Jason. Everyone in this picture was living in San Diego at the time except Cindy and me who were living in the L.A. area at the time.
Remember to make your plans for the Shepard Family Reunion in Oklahoma, July 18, 2009.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Shepard Family Update, January 2, 2009

Be who you are and say what you feelbecause those who mind don't matterand those who matter don't mind.
~Dr. Seuss

Hello Shepard Family and Friends,

Happy New Year to all of you! May 2009 be filled with joy and happiness for each one, and may you experience new adventures that will make this the best year ever.

One new adventure that I hope many of you will experience will be a trip to Oklahoma in July. The date for the 2009 Shepard Family reunion will be July 18, 2009 in Oklahoma City. Actually it will be near the home of Dane and Cindy Shepard who live just outside Oklahoma City. Dane will let us know all the details as the date draws near, but for now make your plans and mark your calendar for Saturday, July 18.

Cindy and Nathan and I find ourselves in Cambodia on this first Friday of the New Year. Yesterday was NOT New Year's day for Cambodians since they traditionally celebrate the New Year on April 13. It was a special day for us, however, because it was the birthday of Nathan's fiancee Chenda Sou. So we did celebrate, but for a different reason!

Speaking of birthdays, this coming Wednesday, January 7, is the birthday of my wife Cindy, the retired banker. Happy Birthday to her! She loves retirement and wonders why she did not retire sooner.

The first picture I am including today is an old picture of some of our family. (Click on the picture to see a larger view.) Dane sent me this picture a while back and gave me this description, which his dad Elmer had shared with him: This picture is "of a gathering somewhere in Oklahoma before 1931; from left to right are possibly Opal James (Dad was not sure about her), Elvira (Owens) [Grandad's mother], Bura [Gram], James and Caroline Davis [Gram's father and mother], Lawrence Davis, three unknowns, possibly Pauline with three unknown children, Grandad, and Cal Williams."

We do not have another picture quite like this one that shows Gram and Grandad as a young married couple, in the same setting with Gram's (Bura's) father and mother, who are on her left AND her mother-in-law, Elvira Owens Shepard, who is on her right. Do any of you recognize the other people in this picture? If so, please let me know.

This old picture shows quite a motley crew! It looks like a scene from the movie "The Grapes of Wrath". Even the fellow in the middle, in the back resembles Henry Fonda from that movie. By the way, if you are not familiar with the movie or the John Steinbeck novel from which it came, it is a classic of literature and then film. It is a story about a depression era Oklahoma family who, because of the economic devastation of the dust bowl, moves to California. Sound familiar? It is strikingly similar to the life story of Will and Bura Shepard.

The second picture was taken just this past Christmas Day in Anacortes, Washington. In the middle in the red sweatshirt is the "Queen Mother" of this clan, Maida Shepard. Starting in the upper left is Gary (with Dexter), his wife Cindy, Steve and Cindy, and Pam and Russell. Next to Maida is Barbara, and down in front are Steven Paul Shepard and Linda Shepard.

It was a white Christmas this year in Anacortes, and was so cold and snowy that travel was difficult. Darrell and his family from the Seattle area -- who are usually in the Anacortes Shepard Family Christmas picture -- were unable to make it for the celebration.

May this new year be filled with peace and fulfillment, as you find the inner strength to "be who you are and say what you feel."