Wednesday, July 28, 2010

July 28 Celebrations for Barbara and Jeff

He who has no fools,
knaves, or beggars
in his family
was begot
by a flash of lightning.
~Old English Proverb

Hello Shepard Family and Friends,

Greetings to all of you from San Diego on this day after the birthday of our esteemed President Barack Obama. Speaking of birthdays... 

Happy Birthday today to Jeff Clark of Blue Springs, Mo. Jeff is married to Kim Clark, one of the grandchildren of Will and Bura Shepard. Kim wrote me recently about the photo of her and Jeff on the right. 

"This picture was taken in Florida on our trip in Feb/March, 2010. We will just be staying around home for Jeff's birthday this year. He has started fishing again. We have several lakes around us. He loves his boat and takes it out as often as he can. He even stays over night on it on the lake."

Happy Birthday Barbara! Jeff shares a birthday on this day with Barbara Shepard of Anacortes, Washington, another one of the grandchildren of Will and Bura Shepard. 

The picture on the left shows Barbara and me and was taken back in May of this year in front of the USS Midway, a one time battle ship that is now a floating museum. At the time Barbara and Maida, who live in Anacortes, Washington, were visiting us in San Diego. Comparing these first two pictures, I never realized that Kim and Barbara look so much alike. They could pass for sisters rather than first cousins. I think they both take after their grandma Bura quite a bit. 

Barb: "Mom and I are going to Leavenworth (Washington) for my birthday on Wednesday. We are just going to play it by ear from there. We might go visit the Grand Coulee Dam. I would also like to go to Seattle to the EMP (Experience Music Project). I am staying really busy working at Safeway these days. We have a lot of tourists and boat people that come in and stay here for the summer."

She Always Has Been a Handful. The third picture I am including is an oldie. It shows a 10 year old Linda Shepard holding her sister Barbara, a handful of baby at about a year old. Linda died in a car accident 39 years ago this coming weekend. This picture was taken in San Diego 50 years ago in the back yard of the old family home on Armstrong Street.

Where did you go on your vacation? Do you have a favorite family vacation picture from this year? To some exotic, far away destination, or just close to home. Email me a copy of your favorite vacation photo and I'd be glad to share it with others in the family.
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Saturday, July 24, 2010

As the Family Goes, July 24

As the family goes,
so goes the nation
and so goes the whole world
in which we live.
~Pope John Paul II

Hello Shepard Family and Friends,

Greetings from San Diego on this beautiful Saturday in late July. It is hard to believe that the summer vacation time for many people is moving along so rapidly. 

Happy Holidays in July. Speaking of vacations, I received word recently from my cousin Dane Shepard of Newcastle, Oklahoma about a good visit he had recently with family from out west. Dane's sister Joan Shepard of Dixon, California, and her daughter Havilah Wardle of Salt Lake City traveled to be with Dane and the rest of that part of our family in Oklahoma in early July.

Dane and his family moved from California to Oklahoma a few years ago. When they did they became the first among all the descendants of Will and Bura Shepard to move back there since Will and Bura moved to San Diego 70 years ago. Our grandparents Will and Bura met in Beaver County, Oklahoma and then were married there in 1915. After moving to Southeast Colorado for several years, they then migrated on to the west coast in 1940 where they lived for the rest of their lives.

The first picture I am including was sent to me by Dane and was taken during their visit a few weeks ago. It shows Dane at the top with his sister Joan on the right and his niece Havilah on the left. At the bottom of the picture is Elmer Shepard, Joan and Dane's dad, and the senior member among all the descendants of Will and Bura Shepard.  Elmer, who turned 92 this past spring, lives not far from Dane in Mustang, Oklahoma.

Happy Birthday to Shannon! Today is the birthday of Shannon Wilk who lives in Atchison, Kansas with her daughter Emma. She is one of the 21 Ggrandchildren of Will and Bura Shepard. Their oldest daughter, Pauline Shepard Russell, is Shannon's grandmother.

The second picture I am including shows Shannon on her birthday many years ago in San Diego. If that is 5 candles on her cake, this picture was taken 32 years ago. Best wishes to Shannon for a wonderful birthday.
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Monday, July 19, 2010

Only the Good Die Young

Only the good die young.
~old saying

Dear Shepard Family and Friends,

If the old saying is true that "Only the good die young", then we have had some very good people in our family. Among them would be Manuel Aquiningoc, a young man of Guamanian descent, who married into our family in 1990.

18 years ago this month, at the age of 30, Manuel died in San Diego. Today would have been his 49th birthday. The tragedy began when he was arrested one evening at his home. The next morning he was found dead in his jail cell. He left behind a young wife, Kerri Shepard Aquiningoc, a 1 year old daughter Lyndsey, and another child on the way, who would be named Mandi. (The picture above shows Manuel, Kerri and baby Lyndsey in 1992.) Manuel's death was a tragedy, and a blow to his family that was very difficult to deal with, especially by those closest to him.

Like many people in our family who have found themselves having to deal with a tragic situation, Kerri, Lyndsey and Mandi have done their best to make the most of life in the last 18 years. Their most recent celebration was Mandi's graduation from High School last month. The picture below, taken last month, shows Lyndsey and Mandi Aquiningoc with their Shepard grandfather Gary.

The fact of the matter is that our family has had to endure other very difficult deaths of young folks. In the 1970s we endured the deaths of Linda Shepard (20) and Bev Russell (35), and then later in the 1990s, the death of Karl Wilk (27) -- 2 grandchildren and a Ggrandchild of Will and Bura Shepard. Also in the 1970s my wife Cindy endured the untimely deaths of two of her cousins in their 20s, Gloria and Chuck Eeds. Whenever a young person's life is cut short, it is especially painful.

Other young members of our family have died in generations past. Their deaths must have hurt their loved ones as much as those that we have experienced. 
These episodes in our family history are not easy to write about. Some of them are shocking, others are heartbreaking. But they are all part of the story of who we are. They remind us of how fragile and difficult life can be. But most of all they help us see that the most important thing is not what life gives us, but what we make of it. It is heartwarming to see that Kerri and Lyndsey and Mandi are making the most of theirs.
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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

My Two Grandmothers

It is as grandmothers
that our mothers come
into the fullness of their grace.
~Christopher Morley

Hello Shepard Family and Friends,

I have been thinking about my two grandmothers lately, Bura Davis Shepard and Nola Shannon Gower, and how their lives paralleled each other. I was fortunate to have grown up in San Diego when they both lived here and was a grateful recipient of their grandmotherly love. My grandfathers Will Shepard and Leroy Gower were also important to me, but like many grandmothers, these women were very special.

They were both born into large farming families in rural, middle America: Bura near Spencer, Indiana about 3 years before the turn of the 20th century, and Nola near Mountain View, Arkansas about 3 years after the turn of the century. Both migrated to Oklahoma with their families when they were young; Bura as a teenager to Beaver County in 1910, and Nola as a 22 year old wife and mother to Okfuskee County, in 1925. 

The first picture, taken about 1930, shows a young Nola Shannon Gower on the left with her mother Finetta Dearien Shannon and 2 of her sisters (Nola was the youngest of 9 kids). The picture below shows Bura Davis Shepard on the left in San Diego about 1943 with a family friend Alice Hall.

Both Nola and Bura, with husbands and children, moved further west in the early 1940s, to San Diego, California, where they lived most of the rest of their lives. They did not actually meet until about 1944 in San Diego. That's when Bura's son Eugene and Nola's daughter Maida struck up a wartime romance and were married May 24, 1945. As a result Nola and Bura shared grandmother duties for 6 children born in the middle years of the 20th century.

Today they each have 2 surviving children: Nola's daughters Maida Shepard and Vicki Johnston of Washington State (see their picture below); and Bura's son Elmer Shepard of Texas, and daughter Thelma Boyd of New Mexico (select this link to see their picture). My two grandmothers have 22 descendants in common, the oldest being a grandson, Gary Shepard of Washington State, and the youngest being a GGgranddaughter, Preslea Shepard, of San Francisco.

Nola and Bura were both the religious torch bearers for their particular family until their dying day. Bura was a staunch, life long member of the Church of Christ; Nola was a devoted Southern Baptist all her life.

Both spent their last few years in Anacortes, Washington with their children Eugene and Maida Shepard. Bura died there in 1986 at 90 years old, and Nola died there 6 years ago this month at the age of 102. They are both buried next to their husbands and within a few steps of each other in Greenwood Cemetery in San Diego.

I speak for all those who knew these women in saying that they are still remembered today with fondness and deep affection for their character, their faith and their unfailing devotion to their family.
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Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Family From So Cal to North Texas

Happy or unhappy,
families are all mysterious.
We have only to imagine
how differently we would be described
- and will be, after our deaths -
by each of the family members
who believe they know us.
~Gloria Steinem

Hello Shepard Family and Friends.

Greetings once again from Tucson, Arizona where it is summertime and the living is easy -- if you're a lizard, a tarantula or a scorpion. We have had a great time, but we are ready to head back to the coast and the cool weather of San Diego.

Happy Birthday Desiree. Today, July 6, is the birthday of Desiree Ortiz, wife of Jeremy Ortiz of Spring Valley, California. Desiree and Jeremy are the parents of Ciara, Ashlyn and Damian Ortiz, who are among the grandchildren of Kim Boyd Clark, and the GGgrandchildren of Will and Bura Shepard. 

The first picture I am including today was taken last summer, and shows Desiree holding son Damian, with Ciara over her left shoulder, held by Desiree's sister-in-law Amanda Ortiz. 

Happy Birthday Nate! Tomorrow is the 8th birthday of Nathaniel "Nate" Sauvage, son of James and Kelly Shepard Sauvage of Weatherford,Texas. Nate is another of the GGgrandchildren of Will and Bura Shepard.

The second picture I am including shows Nate by himself on the left, while on the right is Nate with his younger brother Kyle and his maternal grandfather Gary Shepard of Oak Harbor, Washington. Both parts of this picture were taken just last month in Weatherford, Texas.

His mom Kelly wrote me and said: "Nate is always busy playing and making new friends. Every time we go to a new place Nate will say, “Mommy, can I go meet some new friends”?  That boy has never met a stranger in his life. He also has been busy with summer camp. He goes swimming two times a week and has a field trip at least once a week. Every day he comes home with a couple of projects he made during the day and great stories of all the fun he has had that day. He also loves to visit his Great-Grandmother who is in a local nursing home. He likes to push her in her wheel chair and talk to all the residents.
It doesn’t take much to make him happy. Give him a pile of dirt and a shovel and he can stay busy for hours. Nate is an extremely loving child and such a joy to be around."

Belated Birthday wishes to Becky Clark Cave whose 33rd birthday was last Thursday. Thanks to Becky's sister Amanda for letting me know of the oversight. Becky, the oldest daughter of Jerry Clark and Jane Brock, lives in Weatherford, Texas with her husband Matthew and their children Miller and Emmerson. The final picture I am including today shows Becky and her family in a picture taken in 2008.

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Thursday, July 01, 2010

19th Century Family Women of Note

You have to love a nation
that celebrates its independence,
not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers
but with family picnics
where kids throw Frisbees
the potato salad gets iffy
 and the flies die from happiness.
~Erma Bombeck
Hello Shepard Family and Friends,

Greetings on this first day of July, as the weekend of Independence Day approaches. Cindy and I are still on the go, this time to sunny Tucson, Arizona to visit friends.

In my last post I shared an old family picture of my GGgrandmother Margaret (Maggie) Williams Spear (1845-1904), dressed in white with a black flowery hat. (see picture on right)

There is no date on the copy of the picture that I received, but one can attempt to pinpoint its age by comparing it with another picture I posted on this blog two years ago. That picture, which I am including below for comparison, also shows Maggie (on the left) with her daughter Caroline (Callie) Spear Davis, both dressed in black. It was probably taken about 1880, when Callie (born 1865) appears to be a teenager. 
In the picture of Maggie dressed in white, she appears to be a young adult or an older teen, certainly younger than she is in the 1880 picture. Notice in her younger picture there is no wedding ring. Maggie married William Spear in January, 1865, a few months before her 20th birthday. The picture of her in white may have been taken about that same time, which would make it about 145 years old.

The art of photography in 1865 was very young, which explains the quality of the picture. It appears to be a "tintype" or a "daguerreotype", which were early photo developing methods made famous during the American Civil War (1861-1865) and the years following. At that time cameras were only owned by professionals who took their suitcase sized camera setups to towns across America and for a reasonable fee provided a family with a portrait or two.

The picture above of Maggie in white is a real gem. The black lace on the flowery hat was probably typical for this time during or just after the bloody Civil War, when death was a common visitor to households. In addition, Maggie's older sister Caroline Williams Spear had died at 24 in 1863, leaving a daughter Isolena Belle, who "aunt Maggie" helped raise. She is well dressed with modest jewelry, and a straight face, typical for this period, as she sat before a big box on a tripod manned by a professional who was covered with a heavy blanket.

Some of you may be more familiar with this picture than I am. If you have other insights into it, please let me know. And if you happen to have other old family pictures like this one tucked away in your photo archives, please share them. The stories they tell can be amazing and are worth sharing.

Happy Birthday Elvira Owen. Since I am sharing photos of women in our family born in the 19th century, I will include one more. On this day, July 1, in 1864, another Civil War baby was born, Elvira Owens Shepard. The mother of my grandfather William Shepard, she was born in New Douglas, Illinois, about 40 miles northeast of St Louis. The third picture, taken in the early 1920s when she was about 60, shows Elvira on the left with her daughter-in-law Bura Davis Shepard on the right.
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