Friday, September 25, 2009

Shepard Family Update, Sept. 25, 2009

The family. We were a strange little band of characters
trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste,
borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms,
inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant,
and trying to figure out the common thread
that bound us all together.

~Erma Bombeck

Hello Shepard Family and Friends,

Kairestismoi semeira! (Greetings yet again!) from the beautiful Greek Island of Santorini, on this first Friday of fall, which began this past Tuesday. At least according to the calendar. Where we are it arrived a few days earlier when the wind started to blow this past Sunday and shorts and sandals gave way to pants and a light coat. Where did summer go? Cindy and I and our traveling companions Yorgos and Dionysios have enjoyed ourselves immensely, but we are now ready to conclude our trip and will be heading home this coming Tuesday.

On that very day, as we speed our way westward across the U.S. at 35,000 feet, we will gaze down at the Texas panhandle with birthday wishes for Cathrina (Helms) Clark. Cathrina, who is married to Jerry Clark of Lubbock, Texas, works for a large Cotton Cooperative in Lubbock. She spends time when she can with her kids and grandkids, of whom she is very proud. She and Jerry were married 3 1/2 years ago in Santa Fe, N.M., and have 7 grandkids between the two of them. The first picture I am including shows Cathrina and Jerry earlier this month at a Texas Tech football game.

Jerry has been a part of our family since 1970 when he married my sister Linda Shepard, who died in a car accident in 1971. The second picture I am including is an oldie and was taken in 1972 when Jerry graduated from Lubbock Christian University in Lubbock, Texas. In the picture with graduate Jerry are a couple of members of our family who made the trip from San Diego to Lubbock to celebrate his graduation. Maida Shepard is on the far left, while the taller of the two boys on the right is Russell Shepard, Maida's youngest son. The smaller fellow in front of Russ I cannot identify. 
He might have just wandered into the picture by mistake. (Can any of you tell me who he is and rescue him from the terrible fate of anonymity?) The spindly legged, but bright eyed 12 year old in the purple dress next to Jerry is Barbara Shepard, Maida's daughter.

Barbara, by the way, is to be congratulated for being one of only two people who responded to my question last week about Ggrandmothers. Evidently when I asked the question, most of your eyes must have glazed over as you wondered why I would even ask such an inane question. But not Barbara. Oh, no. She, like me, delights in such diversionary pursuits and was quickest to report correctly the names of each of her Ggrandmothers, who had beautiful names like Elvira (Owens) and Caroline Matilda (Spear), Serena Elizabeth (Turner) and Finetta Clementine (Dearien). Her spelling left a little to be desired, but her heart was in the right spot, so I commend her wholeheartedly.

Also to be commended is Steven Paul Shepard of Anacortes, Washington, who was a half hour slower in responding, but he proudly gave the names of his 4 Ggrandmoms as well. His spelling left even less to be desired, but I like his spirit. To keep your eyes from glazing over yet again I'll be brief and give just the first names of his Ggrandmoms: Nola, Bura, Francis and Alice. (The full names and info of all these Ggrandmothers can be found on

A couple of weeks ago I included a recording of Grandad Will Shepard that cousin Dane Shepard made available recently. Actually Dane converted several different recordings from cassette tapes to MP3 format. They were the result of some cassette recordings that were made back in the 1970s, not long before Grandad died in 1976. Will Shepard, who was born in 1888, was quite a compelling story teller and had lots to say about his long life and varied experiences, making these recordings real gems. We are indebted not only to Dane and his family's foresight in making the original recordings, but for his efforts in converting them to digital format. Select this link to hear another recording of Will Shepard from the 1970s. In this recording he talks about family and his own father, as well as the "wild and woolly west".

I received an email from my brother Gary (of Oak Harbor, Washington) the other day who corrected my comment last week about the total of Maida Shepard's Ggrandchildren. I forgot to add his wife Cindy's 3 grandchildren, which raises Maida's Ggrandchild total to 7. I know this is a modest number when compared to other Ggrandmothers in our larger Davis family (in particular Mildred Davis), but it is a proud total nonetheless.

Have a great week celebrating what Erma Bombeck referred to as "the common thread that binds us all together" as this "strange little band of characters" we call family!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Shepard Family Update, Sept. 18, 2009

Family life is a bit like a runny peach pie - 
not perfect but who's complaining?  
~Robert Brault

Hello Shepard Family and Friends,

Kalimera! ("Good morning!") once again from Greece, this time from the beautiful Island of Santorini, a lovely paradise in the historic Aegean Sea. Even though things here are a little pricey -- $10 for a basket of chips at the local Mexican restaurant! -- we are enjoying ourselves very much. (What's a Mexican restaurant doing out in the Mediterranean anyway!?) And the currency is Euros, so it feels a little unreal to begin with.

Today is the 130th anniversary of the birthday of Levy Pruett (1879-1968), who many of you may never have even heard of. He was Grandad Will Shepard's brother-in-law, having married Grandad's only sibling, Sadie J. Shepard (1892-1980), in the summer of 1910 in Beaver County, Oklahoma. Whereas Bura (Davis) Shepard's family was quite large -- she had 6 siblings -- Will Shepard had only one sister. What this means is that the families of Will Shepard and his sister Sadie Shepard comprise the only descendants of their father William Elmer Shepard (1862-1915), AND their grandfather "Wabash" William Sheppard (1835-1862).

The first picture I am including shows Sadie and Levy Pruett (on the right) with Will and Bura Shepard when the Pruetts came to San Diego from Oklahoma for a visit in 1946.

Levy (pronounced "LEH-vee", NOT "Levi", like the jeans) and Sadie (Shepard) Pruett eventually had 3 daughters  -- Alberta (Pruett) Getz, Gayle Pruett and Twila (Pruett) Allred. There are quite a number of Shepard descendants from this part of our family living today, many of whose names we know, but so far we have been unable to locate any of them. None of them, of course, have the last name Shepard, but instead have last names like Allred, Getz, Pruett, and Kornegay. Hopefully something will turn up eventually and we can be in contact once again. If any of you who are reading this happen know any of Levy and Sadie's descendants, please send me an email with their contact information.

How well do you know your family? When visiting family in Washington State earlier this summer, we had some fun trying to see if we could each come up with the full names of our GREAT grandmothers. Do you know the names of your Ggrandmothers, including their middle names and maiden names? Take a moment right now and see if you can name them.

Ggrandmothers are interesting relatives. (So are Ggrandfathers, of course, but for a moment let's just think about GgrandMOTHERS.) Everyone has 4, each of whom has contributed to the gene pool to make us who we are. Most of us probably never met any of them, although a few of us are fortunate enough to say we have known them well. Even though we may never have met our Ggrandmothers, we probably are closely related to people who did know them very well. So more than likely we each have had some very good second hand information about them. Because our Ggrandmothers used their married names most of their lives, their maiden names often get forgotten. (Hence security questions like: "Mother's maiden name?")

I am curious: how long did it take you to come up with the names of your 4 Ggrandmothers? Did you have to look them up? Or can you even find their names? Or were you able to rattle them off with ease?

Here's a challenge to all of you who are reading this: send me an email with the names of your 4 Ggrandmothers - or at least as much of their names as you can come up with. The first one who emails me the most complete information will be the winner, and will receive a special commendation.

There are a number of women in our larger family who have the distinct privilege of being Ggrandmothers. This second picture shows the two Ggrandmothers within our Shepard clan: Thelma (Shepard) Boyd and Maida Shepard. Thelma (on the left) is holding her youngest Ggrandchild (out of 3) Damian Ortiz, while Maida has on her lap her oldest Ggrandchild (out of 4, or is it 5?) Lyndsey Aquiningoc.

Antio gia tora ("So long for now") and have a great week! 

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Shepard Family Update, Sept. 11, 2009

The value of the family 
is not that adults produce children,
but that children produce adults. 
-Peter de Vries

Hello Shepard Family and Friends,

"Kalimera!" from the beautiful little seaside town of Napflion, Greece, southwest of Athens. We are on the Peloponnesian peninsula, which is a place of vital importance to the history of western civilization. The ancient city of Corinth is about an hour's drive from here, and is home to some of the most stunning archeological ruins in the entire country. That city is also where the Apostle Paul lived for a period of time, and where he planted a church that became one of the most famous in the first century.

On this 8th anniversary of 911, it is humbling to be an American on foreign soil. Of more particular concern to our family, this is a day to be reminded again of how much our world and our country has changed. I can still recall my Grandad Will Shepard 35 or so years ago, talking about the Russians (he pronounced the word "Ruushuns") and how they were the fulfillment of Biblical teaching and a grave danger to our future. How times have changed when thinking about the threats we have to deal with!

Select this link to listen to Will Shepard being interviewed on a variety of family subjects in 1975. In this particular recording he does not expound on the "Ruushuns," but you will still find it interesting and -- if you knew Grandad -- nostalgic. Thanks to Dane Shepard for this recording. (The file is very large, so please be patient.)

As a day of remembrance, September 11 is a day of darkness and tragedy. I prefer September 12 myself. There is a movement afoot to make 9-12 a day of recovery, a day of reconciliation, an annual Axis of Friendship Day, in order to move beyond the ugliness and horror of 911.

I also like September 12 because it was on that day in 1861 that GGgrandpa "Wabash" William Sheppard joined the Union cause and began his military service. Even though he would not live to see another September 12, that day in 1861 must have been for him a time of great hope and expectation. He had just left his young wife in Wabash, Indiana -- who was four months pregnant with their first child -- and found himself in Indianapolis. It was very early in the conflict, so he -- like all the other recruits -- was anticipating a swift conclusion to the southern rebellion, so they could all get on with their young lives. In hindsight we know that his story ended sadly, but it was a fine September 12 when the last adventure of his life began.

Back to the future: here in the 21st century, September 12 is important because it is the birthday of Kelly Shepard Sauvage of Weatherford, Texas. Those of you who were at the July reunion will remember her and her 2 boys who attended and enjoyed themselves immensely. Kelly emailed recently to say,

We have a lot going on here in Texas. Nate and Kyle entered public school this year. YEAH!! No more monthly payments to daycare/private school. They are so excited about public school. Kyle is so happy to have some boys in his class. In Pre-K he was one of only three boys in a class with 13 girls. He had his first T-ball practice this week and is excited to finally be old enough to play. Nate loves his new school too. Especially going to P.E. and Music class. Nate will have his first "coach pitch" practice this week. After two seasons of T-ball he will be moving up. James started a new job with Direct TV in July and he seems to be enjoying it. He will once again be referreeing football as often as his job will allow. He referees everything from pee wee to high school. So I will once again be a "single mom" until football season is over. It doesn't leave me much free time, but I love being with my boys. I had a great time this summer at the family reunion in Oklahoma. It was great to see everyone. Nate and Kyle still talk about the people they met and played with. Nate loves to talk about his "best buddy" Steven. Kyle still talks about his second cousin Linda and his third and fouth cousins... Nate Shepard and Nathan Shepard.  I can't wait for us to do this again!

The first picture I am including was taken in San Diego in 1976 and shows a young Kelly on the shoulders of her uncle Darrell Shepard, who now lives in Kenmore, Washington. Also in the picture are her aunt Barbara Shepard and another uncle, Russell Shepard, who both now live in Anacortes, Washington.
The second picture I am including was taken in July in Newcastle, Oklahoma at the family reunion. In the middle of the picture is Kelly. Surrounding her (beginning in the bottom left and going counterclockwise) are her younger son Kyle Sauvage, Ciara Ortiz of San Diego and Kelly's older son Nate Sauvage. Then Virginia Niles of Edmond, Oklahoma, Linda and Steven Shepard of Anacortes, Washington, and Nathan and Chenda Shepard, of San Francisco.

Speaking of Nathan and Chenda, congratulations are in order. They are expecting a baby next spring! Best wishes and good health to both of them. Have a great week, wherever you may be, celebrating this wonderful, diverse family that we are!

Friday, September 04, 2009

Shepard Family Update, September 4, 2009

"Blood is thicker than water."
-popular proverb

Hello Shepard Family and Friends,

Greeting from our home in San Diego where Cindy and I find ourselves on this weekend of Labor Day, when most of don't do much "labor" at all.

This coming Wednesday, September 9, is my turn to celebrate a birthday! The unique date 090909 suggests to many people oneness, a sense of being connected to each other and to our world. In the midst of all the strife and dissension in the world around us, that suggestion seems very attractive. For that reason many people around our world are celebrating next Wednesday as World Day of Interconnectedness. Seems to me -- especially with our interest in our "interconnectedness" as family -- that would be a great way to approach this coming Wednesday. Or any day for that matter.

The first picture I am including is an old one and illustrates interconnectedness, at least as it relates to our family. Taken in the spring of 1983 in Los Alamitos, California, it is yet another multi-generational picture which our family has been fond of over the years. It shows Bura (Davis) Shepard in the middle, and her second son Eugene Shepard on the right. On the left is me (Eugene's second son) and then our son Nathan holding an airplane. This picture was taken on his 6th birthday.

I mentioned last week that the story of the our family cannot be fully told apart from our Church connections. I'd like to go a step further and say something about my particular place in that picture. With it being my week to celebrate a birthday, I hope you will indulge me this bit of autobiography.

My early years were all spent in regular participation in Church of Christ congregations. There was never a time when my family did not attend a Church of Christ faithfully. It was during my college years at Lubbock Christian and then Abilene Christian that I felt a yearning, a call, to enter the ministry. In the ensuing 10 years I served in full time ministry in various Church of Christ congregations while getting advanced degrees at San Francisco Theological Seminary and Fuller Seminary.

In time my faith and religious understanding evolved to the point where I felt the need to become a minister in the Disciples of Christ, a more progressive and open minded fellowship. It was a decision I did not come by easily. The Disciples are the ecclesiastical cousins of the Church of Christ, toward the "left" side of the religious spectrum. Yet they share many similarities in practice, including believer's baptism by immersion, weekly communion, and congregational autonomy. And they are both part of the Stone-Campbell tradition, a religious movement that began in early America. As I mentioned last week, our family has roots in that particular heritage that go back nearly 150 years.

I still remember that evening 30 years ago when I told my Grandmother Bura (Davis) Shepard that I had become a minister of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). She was the religious matriarch of our family and bore the torch of loyalty to the Church of Christ better than anyone else. Many in our larger family had gathered during the Christmas holidays at the home of cousin Phil Wilk, with whom Gram was living at the time, in Lakeside just outside San Diego.

It was a time of transition for our family. Grandad Will Shepard had died at the age of 88 just a couple of years earlier. And Phil's young wife Beverly had tragically died just a few year's before that, leaving Phil with two small children, Karl and Shannon. The adjustment to Bev's death was made more difficult for some by Phil's choice of a man to be his life partner. Sometime during the evening Gram and I had a moment together. I swallowed hard and told her that I had become a minister of a Christian Church. Her response was simple but to the point: "I can't go for that." More than anything else, I understood that to be a reflection of her 80+ years of unwavering loyalty to the Church of Christ.

Fortunately, the relationship she and I shared was strong enough that my decision to wander away from the Church of Christ fold was not an obstacle to our life together. Even though Gram was thoroughly devoted to the Church of Christ, she cared deeply for all her family, regardless of their life decisions. "Blood is thicker than water" is an old proverb suggesting that family ties are strangely stronger that just about any other relationship in life. And to our credit, I have found that to be true in our family, thanks in large part to her generous and loving spirit. And when you think about it, isn't that what "interconnectedness" means?

Red Rock's Roper Rider Rex Russell. The second picture I am including shows cousin Rex Russell of Red Rock, Nevada, with his horse Roper. Eric and Ruth, Rex's son and daughter-in-law, also of Red Rock, sent this picture to me recently to share with all of you.

Rex is the first child of Bill and Pauline (Shepard) Russell, and is the first grandchild of Will and Bura Shepard. It is hard to believe that the cowboy in this picture was raised a city boy in San Diego! To be sure, he was born in a very small town in southeast Colorado, but his family moved to Southern California in 1940 when he was a young child. Though Roper is his pride and joy, Rex can also be found occasionally racing his souped up black Camaro on the Fallon Raceway. Eric and Ruth shared with me that Rex spent some time in the hospital earlier this summer with pneumonia, but the last word I received is that he is doing much better now, and is back in the saddle again.

For the next couple of weeks Cindy and I will be out of the country, and I may have some trouble accessing or sending email. If you don't hear from me, just check our family blog at each Friday for a family update.