Friday, April 24, 2009

Shepard Family Update, April 24, 2009

Our family is a circle of love and strength.
With every birth and every union, the circle grows.

Every joy shared adds more love.

Every obstacle faced together

makes the circle stronger.

author unknown

Hello Shepard Family and Friends,

Greeting from beautiful San Diego to all of you who find yourselves within "our circle of love and strength." Spring hit us hard this past week with some 100 degree weather, but it didn't last long. And as often happens, today is cool and very pleasant.

These weekly emails are focused on the lives of William Shepard and Bura Davis Shepard, as well as their family and friends. So these messages have what seems like a fairly narrow focus. After all, Will and Bura are just part of the family tree of each one of us. For me, since they are just two of my four grandparents, they are half of my entire family tree. However, for the youngest ones in our family, since Will and Bura are just 2 of their 16 GGgrandparents, they represent only 1/8 of their family tree!

Yet even though the focus is fairly narrow, as we consider the ancestors of Will and Bura Shepard, the numbers get very large very quickly. For example, Will and Bura had 4 parents between the two of them, and 8 grandparents, 16 Ggrandparents, etc. When you add in the siblings of each generations, you can see that the number of ancestors from just Will and Bura's part of the family gets very large after going back only a few generations.

When you add in Gram's Davis siblings and their families, and Grandad's sister's (Sadie Shepard Pruett's) children and their families, you can see that our larger family tree is something that encompasses probably hundreds of people today. By the way, with so many of these folks living in the middle part of the country, we hope to see some of them at the July reunion in Oklahoma.

Remembrances. This coming Tuesday we remember the life of Eugene William Shepard on what would have been his 88th birthday. It was 6 years ago this summer that Dad died in Anacortes, Washington. His father, William Shepard (who was born in 1888), died at almost exactly 88 years old. Gene and Maida raised their 6 children in San Diego, but most of their family now live in and around Anacortes, Washington.

This coming Monday we remember the life of Beverly Russell on what would have been her 70th birthday. She died way too young at the age of 33 in San Diego of an unexpected brain aneurysm. Bev's daughter is Shannon Wilk who lives in Atchison, Kansas with her young daughter Emma Beverly Jean Wilk. The first picture I am including was taken last year and shows Shannon with Kim Clark. Both of them live not far from Kansas City, Missouri - Shannon about an hour's drive North, and Kim about a half hour's drive East.

Shannon's uncle (and Beverly's older brother) is Rex Russell who now lives in Nevada. Rex and Beverly are the first two grandchildren of Will and Bura Shepard, and their only grandchildren born in Colorado before the family moved to San Diego in 1940.

Most of us had not been in contact with Rex for quite a few years. I contacted him recently after getting his phone number from my aunt Thelma of Gallup, New Mexico. She had quite serendipitously received it from an old friend in San Diego. Rex and I had a wonderful conversation when we talked. He is doing well and living in Red Rock, Nevada, north of Reno, on a remote 10 acres, "17 miles from the nearest gas station," he said. He moved to Nevada a few years ago from Southern California and is now retired. He lives next to his son Eric and Eric's wife Ruth and their three horses and other ranch animals. Rex does not have a computer, but Eric and Ruth do, so they are now part of our online family circle.

The second picture I am including is and oldie from Christmas 1960 and shows several members of our family at the Russell home on Mandalay Place in San Diego. From left to right in the picture are: Will and Bura Shepard, then Rex Russell with his first wife Ellen, next to his mother Pauline Shepard Russell. Next to Pauline is Thelma and Terry Boyd with their 21 year old niece Beverly Russell on the far right.

Our family reunion in Newcastle, Oklahoma this summer is less than 3 months away! Be sure and make your plans and join us for this celebration of our "circle of love and strength".

Friday, April 17, 2009

Shepard Family Update, April 17, 2009

The great gift of family life
is to be intimately acquainted with people
you might never even introduce yourself to,
had life not done it for you.
-- Kendall Hailey

Hello Shepard Family and Friends,

Greetings from home in San Diego where Cindy and I have returned after being away for most of the last two weeks, visiting family and friends. I hope all of you had a wonderful Easter celebration and were able to spend it with people who are dear to you.

The quote above reminds me that not every one in every family gets along with everyone else. Even though our DNA reveals some unique similarities, it is sometimes amazing how different people within the same family can be. My experience has been that our family is usually a place where love abounds and where we enjoy one another's company. But like any group of people, on occasion within our family life we find ourselves close to people we might never otherwise choose to relate to. That is part of what makes family life such a unique gift from God. It is something that not only nourishes and comforts us, but also challenges and stretches us, and therefore enriches our experience of life. It is something akin to what has been said about good preaching: it not only comforts the afflicted; it afflicts the comforted.

Okay, enough of that. On to more practical matters. Congratulations to Nathan Shepard of Blanchard, Oklahoma. (This is Dane and Cindy's Nathan Shepard, not to be confused with Steve and Cindy's Nathan Shepard. Confused yet?) The younger Nathan Shepard won the Oklahoma state Bowling Championship for his division just a few weeks ago! The first picture I am including shows Nathan with his award from that event. His father Dane emailed me recently with the details.

Nathan and I were in Bartlesville (north of Tulsa near Kansas) for the state bowling tournament, March 28-29. It snowed about 7 inches while we were there. We accomplished a lot though. Nathan is now the new state champion in the boy's handicap division! He started bowling this past September and barely made the cut for the state finals. With great improvement and help from coaches and friends, he made it all the way. The tournament was more stressful for me than him. He earned $525 toward a college scholarship. Of course, we are happy and proud.

Dane has also been in touch with some of our Davis relatives in Oklahoma recently. They are the family of Gram (Bura Davis Shepard) and we are hopeful that several of them will be able to attend the Family Reunion in July. The second picture I am including shows Dane with his great aunt Mildred Beck Davis of Bartlesville, Oklahoma. Mildred is the wife of Gram's brother Jesse Davis. She is the last surviving member of that generation of our family. Congratulations and best wishes to Mildred, whose 99th birthday will be two weeks from today.

Regarding the July 18 Family reunion: I am planning to put together a PowerPoint photo presentation for our family reunion in July in Newcastle, Oklahoma. I would like to include pictures from each of the family units among us. If you have a new or old family picture you could send to me, I would love to include it. A digital image would be best and can be emailed to me at If what you have is simply a photograph, I would be glad to receive it by regular mail and after scanning it, would sent it back promptly. My address is 2511 Northside Dr, #208, San Diego, Ca 92108.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Shepard Family Update, Good Friday, 2009

Tomb, thou shalt not hold Him longer;
Death is strong, but Life is stronger;
Stronger than the dark, the light;
Stronger than the wrong, the right.
~Phillips Brooks

Hello Shepard Family and Friends,

Greetings from beautiful Tucson, Arizona where Cindy and I happen to be on this weekend of Easter, visiting some special friends. Today, "Good" Friday, is a day of great irony, but a day that carries a powerful message. If nothing else, it reminds me of something that our family members have learned time and again over the years: from great tragedy can come remarkable blessings.

When I think of the many untimely deaths among our family members (in recent years and long ago), when I think of the great hardships our family has encountered, when I think of the many obstacles they (and we) have had to endure, I am glad that there is a strong legacy of Christian faith among our people going back about as far as we can trace them.

Not all our ancestors were religious, of course, but many were. I salute them all for their strong character and their enduring spirit. It is great to know that we have a wonderful family legacy well worth celebrating on this Easter weekend 2009.

The first picture I am including (click on it to see a larger view) is actually 3 Easter snap shots taken about 20 years apart over the last half century. The first shows my sister Linda and me on Easter morning, 1953 at our home in Linda Vista in our Sunday finest (and that is about as fine as it got back then!). The second shows Nathan Shepard looking rather nonplussed with his Easter basket and inflatable Easter bunny on Easter morning 1978 at his Harris grandparents' home in San Diego. And the third shows 8 year old Rachel Shepard in Easter bonnet and gloves in 1995 at her grandparent's home in Anacortes, Washington.

Like many families we had a thing for fine clothes, church attendance, Easter baskets, and Easter eggs, both candy eggs and hard boiled. The first part of this triple photo reminds me of my family's Easter weekend ritual when I was a child. On Saturday evening we would dye our hard boiled eggs, magically turning them into "Easter Eggs", which we would then hide in various locations around the house or the front yard. Sunday morning we would then have an Easter egg hunt after which we would enjoy hardboiled eggs as an appropriate breakfast prelude to church attendance later that same morning.

One Easter, the weather was good enough that we hid eggs on and around our front porch on Rosecrans Street similar to the one which Linda and me are standing in the picture. It wasn't until sometime around May that one of the eggs, which had been hidden a little too well, made itself known by its rotting smell! The colorful shell was still intact, but the egg inside was far from edible.

On the right in the above photo triad is Rachel, whose birthday is this coming Tuesday. She lives in Kenmore, Washington with her mom and dad. This picture was taken last summer also in Anacortes, and shows Rachel with her proud father Darrell Shepard.

Have I mentioned before about our family reunion coming up this summer? ;-) All family members and friends are invited to make Saturday, July 18 a special day as we gather in Newcastle, Oklahoma from noon till 5 pm to celebrate the family bond that unites us.

Dane Shepard, who lives in nearby Blanchard, OK will be hosting the event and tells me that it appears that at least 50 people will be attending, from Washington to California to Kansas, Missouri, Texas and of course Oklahoma. If you have not yet responded, please do so by contacting Dane or Kim. Or let me know and I will pass the word to them. We are looking forward to a wonderful time of renewing family ties, seeing some new and old photos, enjoying one another's company, sharing a catered meal, and much more.

In the meantime, have a happy, colorful Easter!

Friday, April 03, 2009

Shepard Family Update, April 3, 2009

The family - that dear octopusfrom whose tentacleswe never quite escape,nor, in our inmost hearts,ever quite wish to.
-- Dodie Smith

Dear Shepard Family and Friends,

Greetings to all of you from the mountains of Northern California on this first Friday of April! Cindy and I are enjoying a few days away from the city, taking care of some business, and enjoying the poppies that are springing up all over the state.

What is it about family that leads one to describe it as "a dear octopus whose tentacles we never quite escape... nor ever quite wish to"? One obvious answer is that our family are people with whom we have shared life, people who have meant so much to us through the years, people with whom we have laughed and cried, who have supported us or challenged us, who have brought us great joy and satisfaction, and sometimes disappointment.

But there is something else. Our family is generally that small community who ushered us into this world, not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually. They are literally where we originated. The impact of one's "family of origin" is difficult to overestimate. The family we each experienced as a child has a major impact on the values we affirm, the relationships we make, the faith we have or do not have, and the way we relate to the world. The lessons we learned about life as a child -- for good or for bad -- have a way of remaining with us as long as we live. As we develop through the years our values and our inner makeup grow and change to one degree or another. Yet those earliest experiences remain the bedrock upon which the rest of our life is built, and are the platform from which all change begins.

Our family of origin includes not only our parents and other parental figures, but to a lesser degree (but still a significant degree) our extended families, including parent's parents, and their parents, and so on. Is it any wonder that family study and research is such a fascinating thing? When we find out about our family we are finding out about ourselves.

Happy Birthday today to our son Nathan Shepard of San Francisco, California! Nathan works for Wells Fargo Bank as a Computer Analyst, and loves the city life. He happens to be miles and miles away from Cindy and me on this special day. He is in Phnom Penh, Cambodia with his fiance Chenda Sou, celebrating his 32nd Birthday. In addition to traveling to Southeast Asia to see Chenda, Nathan enjoys skiing, working out, playing hockey and caring for his cat Socket. Select this link to see an updated photo presentation of Nathan.

The first picture I am including is a picture of Nathan with his G-grandmother Bura Davis Shepard, taken in San Diego in the spring of 1980. Bura actually looks fairly chipper at 83 in this picture, even though she would begin failing soon and passed away only 6 years later, just before her 90th birthday.

Tomorrow is the birthday of Ciara Ortiz, who is the 3rd GGgrandchild of Will and Bura Shepard. She is also the firstborn of Jeremy and Desiree Ortiz of El Cajon, Ca., the granddaughter of Kim Clark, and the Great granddaughter of Thelma and Terry Boyd. Mom Desiree says, "Ciara is turning 7 on April 4th. She is such a smart and loving girl. She is a straight "A" student and we are so proud of all that she is accomplishing! We just love her so much and are so proud to call her our daughter."

The second picture I am including shows Hannah Montana fan Ciara Ortiz. Thanks to Grandmother Kim Clark for this picture that was taken a few months ago. Happy Birthday to Ciara!

Are you making your plans to attend the family reunion in Oklahoma this summer on July 18? We are hoping for a great turnout as we celebrate the family that we are. The location will be the Newcastle Community Center in Newcastle, Oklahoma which is off I-44, just 15 miles south of the airport in Oklahoma City.