Thursday, May 26, 2011

Memorial Weekend Celebrations, May 26, 2011

Memory is a way of holding onto
the things you love,
the things you are,
the things you never want to lose

~from "The Wonder Years"

Hello Family and Friends,

Greetings to all of you as the Memorial Day holiday approaches.

Congratulations to Brandyn Boyd who turns 18 today, May 26. Brandyn lives in Lakeside, California with his family, including parents Darren and Vicki Boyd and his sisters Courtney and Kori. His mother tells me that Brandyn is working and will graduate from High School next spring. Baseball player Brandyn is the grandson of Terry and Thelma Boyd.

Ruth Styer Russell's birthday is this Saturday, May 28. She shares a birthday with her father-in-law Rex Russell who died earlier this year. Saturday would have been Rex's 75th birthday. Ruth and husband Eric Russell live in Red Rock, Nevada.

The picture on the left from the 1990s was sent to me recently by Ruthie, who said, "Attached is one of my favorite pictures of Dad (Rex), Grandmother (Pauline) and me. I'm not sure of the year but it is one of the last pictures I have of Grandmother and one of the few of Dad and me. I have been so blessed to have had dad in my life. He was such a warm and funny man and it is going to be tough this year without him. We were connected with birthday's 5-28-36 & 5-28-63. How often does that happen? I love reading your letters! Hope all is well."

Best wishes to my cousin Mike Harrell who has a birthday this Sunday, May 29, the day before the Memorial Day holiday. Mike is one of the 12 grandchildren of Leroy and Nola Shannon Gower, and is the son of my aunt Vicki Gower Johnston of Oak Harbor, Washington.

The third picture shows Mike and his wife Carole enjoying themselves at a New Year's celebration.

Mike: Hi Steve, my wife Carole and I have been living in San Jose for 11 years. I left San Diego when I was 18 and have spent the rest of my life trying to get back. Nowadays I am a project manager for an Engineering Software company (Siemens PLM Software). I work on-site at Lockheed Martin Space Systems helping them develop their satellites used for communication and deep space exploration. Life is good, but it will be much better if/when I reach retirement like you.

Setting the Record Straight. Thanks to Brandyn Boyd's grandmother Thelma Boyd for correcting my last post. The sweetest nitpicker I know, she wants it made clear that her brother Elmer's birthday is May 20th (not the 19th), and her Ggranddaughter Ashlyn Ortiz' birthday is May 19 (not the 20th). Thanks to Thelma for setting the record straight.

This weekend of Memorial Day we remember and celebrate family who have meant so much to us over the years, including Rex Russell and Mildred Davis who passed away in recent months.

From an email yesterday from my cousin Dane Shepard:

"It was quite an afternoon on the Great Plains. It was very warm and humid as we sat in our shelter listening to the news of the approaching storm. Around 5:30 PM it hit with a tornado passing just a few miles to the NW cutting across the town of Newcastle, OK. Just a few blocks from where we had the family reunion a diagonal path cut through the neighborhood. It was a saddening experience to see the loss, especially for those you happened to know. We are grateful to have only lost a shingle and power. The rest of the family here is fine. I called Arbor House and they reported all was well. They probably had to move Dad and others to a safe area for a while. We are thankful for God's care and pray for those in need."

Thanks to Dane for this update, and best wishes to all those who have been affected by the recent tornadoes.
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Info on Shepard Family Reunion Aug 13, 2011

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Most Unlikely Trio, May 19, 2011

The only rock I know that stays steady,
the only institution I know that works,
is the family.
~Lee Iacocca

Hello Family and Friends,

Greetings to all of you on this beautiful day in May!

Elmer. Congratulations today to the most senior member of our family - my uncle Elmer Shepard of Mustang, Oklahoma. Born on this day in 1918 in Beaver County, Oklahoma, Elmer - the second child of Will and Bura Shepard - is now 93 years young. The first picture was taken just a few weeks ago and shows Elmer with his two children, son Dane of Newcastle, Oklahoma and daughter Joan of Dixon, California.

Dane: "This has been the busiest spring I have encoun- tered in a while. I've been in and out of town with song worship meetings and also learning about claims adjusting to help supplement my 'retirement.' We enjoyed a short visit to the Dallas area over the weekend so Cindy got away for a birthday break. The end of the school year is always busy as Nathan and Kaylan are finishing two bowling leagues, tournaments, and performing in a band concert. We have even 'volunteered' to help with a summer camp this June that they will be attending. We're certainly blessed to be able to enjoy these great family experiences.

"Amidst all this I have not had as much time for Dad. I know it has not been easy for him. He is still hanging in there and although he is getting weaker, he still manages to get out. I take him each time to Chicken Express for fried catfish and to Braums for ice cream. I have asked him if he would like to go somewhere else but he states there's no other place he would enjoy more. As his doctor says, 'When you're 92, you can have anything you want to eat.' We have transferred him into a special unit in the same facility where he can receive full assistance. As always, he likes reading your email. His new mailing address is: Arbor House, 850 N. Clear Springs Road, #447, Mustang, OK  73064"

Jason. Yesterday was the birthday of Jason Shepard of Weatherford, Texas, one of the Ggrandchildren of Will and Bura Shepard. Thirty something Jason was born and raised in San Diego before moving to Texas about 10 years ago. His father is Gary Shepard of Washington, and his mom is Jackie Perry of Weatherford.

The second picture shows Jason with his nephew and fellow San Diego Padre fan Kyle Sauvage.

Ashlyn. To round out this most unlikely trio of birthday celebrants... tomorrow, May 20, is the birthday of Ashlyn Ortiz of Blue Springs, Missouri, one of the GGgrandchildren of Will and Bura Shepard. Until recently she and her parents Jeremy and Desiree Ortiz and her siblings Ciara and Damian lived in Spring Valley, California but now are in the process of moving to Missouri.

The picture on the right shows Ashlyn when she was on vacation with her grandparents recently in Bedrock City, Arizona. Partially pictured is her brother Damian.

Grandmother Kim Clark tells me that Ashlyn "is adjusting well here in Missouri. She loves to dress up and look pretty and play teacher. She likes to be on the go all the time and is amazed at all the wild life here. She especially likes to feed the buffalo. We went for a walk around the lake close to our house and she asked if she was in the forest. She loves to play soccer, boat riding and fishing."

Happy Birthday and best wishes to Elmer, Jason and Ashlyn!
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Monday, May 16, 2011

Welcome to the World, Logan! May 16, 2011

Hello Family and Friends,

Sunday night, May 15, we welcomed the newest member of our family into the world when Logan Alexander Shepard was born in San Francisco, California. He is the second child of proud parents Nathan and Chenda Shepard and the little brother of bewildered Preslea Shepard. Cindy and I are the proud grandparents.

Logan was born at California Pacific Medical Center, arriving 3 1/2 weeks earlier than expected. Mom Chenda is doing very well after a fairly easy delivery. Logan himself is healthy as can be, weighing in at 7 lbs. 3 oz. and 20 inches long. 

The picture above shows Logan at about an hour old looking at his father Nathan. 

Logan bumps his big sister off the top of the list of the youngest descendants of Will and Bura (Davis) Shepard and Leroy and Nola (Shannon) Gower.

Logan's birth reminds me of the story I heard about the county preacher who was called to the hospital because of the birth in a family he knew. He arrived to see the new father looking through the glass in the maternity ward at his newborn. They couldn't hear anything but it was obvious she was crying.

Trying to be a comforting pastor, he said to the father, “You know, she’s not sick or anything. It’s good for them to scream...clears their lungs.”

The father said, “Oh, I know she ain’t sick. She’s just mad.”

“Why would she be mad?”

“Well, wouldn’t you be, if one minute you are with God in heaven, and the next minute you are here?”

The preacher thought, “Man, I’ve got me a real mountain Gnostic on my hands. This guy’s been reading Plato.” So he said, “So you believe she was with God before she came here?”

“Oh, yeah.”

“You think she’ll remember?”

The new father replied, “Well that’s up to her mother and me. We got to make sure she remembers who she is, ‘cause if she forgets, she’s a goner.”

Congratulations to Nathan and Chenda on their new arrival. And welcome to the world, Logan!
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Friday, May 13, 2011

Friday-the-13th Lucky Ones, May 13, 2011

Rejoice with your family
in the beautiful land of the living
~Albert Einstein

Hello Family and Friends,

Greetings to all of you from warm and sunny Alameda California on this Friday the 13th, a fearful day for some. But for four members of our family it is a lucky day, as they get ready to celebrate birthdays in the next few days.

Christopher Shepard and Courtney Boyd, two of the Great Grandchildren of Will and Bura Davis Shepard, will celebrate birthdays tomorrow. Chris (see first picture) will celebrate in the Seattle area where he lives, as do his parents Mary and Darrell Shepard. Happy 27th Birthday, Chris!

Courtney Boyd will turn 21 tomorrow when she celebrates her birthday! She is the second of 4 in our family who turn 21 this year, the others being Steven, Lyndsey and Patrick. One of the grandchildren of Terry and Thelma Boyd, Courtney lives in the San Diego suburb of Lakeside, California with her parents Darren and Vicki Boyd and her siblings Brandyn and Kori. Congratulations and happy birthday to Courtney and best wishes for a safe and joyful celebration.

The second picture, taken in San Diego a few months ago, shows Courtney on the right with her cousin Ciara Ortiz in front of her. On the left is her dad Darren, holding his niece Ashlyn Ortiz.

Courtney: I'm doing well Steve, thanks for asking. I just recently got a job working at AAA insurance and love it. I'm very happy with it, I work full time, and I bought myself a new car. My next focus is moving out of my parents house. (Keep your fingers crossed!) I am no longer waitressing, but I keep myself very busy working 6 days a week. As for our birthdays, I don't think I'm doing anything too special, I plan on going Downtown for the night with some friends. Not sure what the plans with the family are, still deciding. :)

Thelma (Shepard) Boyd, just like her grand daughter Courtney, will celebrate a milestone birthday tomorrow. She tells me "I don't do anything to celebrate 'those days'," so it will probably be a quiet time in the Boyd house in Gallup, N.M. The youngest daughter of Will and Bura Shepard, she was born in Two Buttes, Colorado in 1936, but spent most of her growing up years in San Diego. Congratulations and happy birthday to Thelma! 

A Facebook rumor has it that Thelma is old enough to remember Bazooka Gum. And getting Report Cards. And saying the Pledge of Allegiance in school. (Doesn't sound very old to me!) The third picture is an oldie and shows Hollywood starlet Thelma with her niece Beverly Russell in September, 1957.

To round out the celebratory weekend, Darren Boyd -- Thelma and Terry's son, and Courtney's father --  has a birthday on Monday. (See Darren in second picture above.) Best wishes to all of them!
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Saturday, May 07, 2011

What's In A Name? May 7, 2011

I remember my mother's prayers
and they have always followed me.
They have clung to me all my life.

~Abraham Lincoln

Hello Family and Friends,

Greetings to all of you on this day before Mother's Day. Happy Birthday this coming Wednesday to Jacinta Saunders Shepard of Newcastle, Oklahoma. This "Cindy Shepard" is the mother of Nathan and Kaylan Shepard and the wife of Dane Shepard. A special Mother's Day wish to Cindy and all mothers in our families! Below is an updated Mother's Day photoshow celebrating our moms.

What's In A Name? With our daughter-in-law Chenda soon to become a mother once again, we have been thinking a lot about names. As a result I have been pondering outstanding names in our family tree.

What makes an outstanding name, you ask? Admittedly it is a very subjective matter. For me an outstanding name is one that rolls off the tongue easily (is phonetically pleasing), or one that has some depth of meaning to it (is rich with history), or one that strikes me as strong, intelligent, handsomely masculine or beautifully feminine. (See what I mean about subjective?) Of the 1,393 people presently in our family tree, the following are my choices for the Top 10 outstanding names.

10 - Mary Questionable Gillespie (1756-1789) - her grandmother was from Questionable, Ireland. Both "Q" names may be questionable, however.

9 - James Brooks Davis (1870-1928) - my grandmother Davis always spoke her father's name with great respect.

8 - Rebecca Floride Calhoun (1745-1814) - among our Gower/Shannon/Pickens ancestors; hopefully her middle name is pronounced "floor-a-day" or "floor-a-dee," not "floor-ride".

7 - Nathan William Shepard (b. 1977) - I confess: I am prejudiced here. What can I say? It's Biblical and it includes William Shepard.

6 - Thomas Laurens Van Buskirk (1668-1748) - my 9G Grandpa; son of a Danish immigrant; The Donald can only WISH he had such a rich, distinguished name. 

5 - Julius Theophilus Vessels (1871-1942) - See Acts 1:1; his mother was Narcissus; father was Julius Ceasar. He was from Limestone, Alabama.

4 - Preslea Maida Shepard (b. 2010) - I admit it: I am shamelessly prejudiced with this choice. But every part has real meaning.

3 - Robert Columbus Shannon (1893-1923) - Grandma Gower's brother. With a name like this, it would be criminal to call him "Bob."

2 - Benjamin Harrison Davis (1888-1963) - his namesake, a popular hoosier politician, was elected our 23rd President just 3 months after BHD's birth. Great choice by his parents Charles and Melinda! I never knew our Davis people were so political. (See picture of our Benjamin Harrison, alongside President Harrison.)

1 - Kyle Christian Sauvage (b. 2004) - a superb combination of sounds and strength; handsomely masculine; even a wonderfully bit oxymoronic.

What do you think? I am sure each of you has your own favorite outstanding family name. Who would you include? I'd like to hear from you and share your choices in a future post. 

Kids Say the Darn- dest Things. My niece Kelly Sauvage of Weather- ford, Texas, (mother of Kyle Sauvage, mentioned above) told the following story on Facebook. I think you will enjoy it as much as I did.

"I was at 'Yogurt Story' with my boys tonight when two girls walked in wearing prom dresses. One of them was showing a whole lot of cleavage. My 8 year old son Nate, who will say anything to anyone, says, "Excuse me, you may want to pull that up!"

The second picture shows Kelly and Nate in the summer of 2008 at our last Shepard Family Reunion in Anacortes, Washington.

Our next family reunion will be in Anacortes once again, on Saturday, August 13. If you plan to attend, please notify me or one of the Shepards in Anacortes. The meal preparers are making plans, and we want to make sure everyone will be well fed! Select this link for all the reunion details.
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Sunday, May 01, 2011

The Century Mark, May 1, 2011

There's nothing more special
or dear to the heart
than the feelings of love
that a family shares.

Hello Family and Friends,

Today is a day of remembering the life of Mildred Beck Davis who passed away back in January in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. She was born May 1, 1911, which means that today would have been her 100th birthday. At the time of her death she was the oldest living member of the family of my grandmother Bura (Davis) Shepard.

The first picture shows Mildred in a picture taken in 2009. The second picture shows Mildred (front center) with the six children of her and Jesse Davis: Nordeen, Jessie, Charlotte, Bud, Becky and Kathryn.  

From her daughter Charlotte: Mom's birthday has floated through my mind a few times lately. I think of how proud she would have been to have made the 100th mark. But I remember that in her mind she had already made it. She would proudly proclaim that "You know I'm 100"!  

I know she would have been em- barrassed by all the fuss we would have made. So maybe she enjoyed the "celebration of her life" more since she could watch "from a distance".  May 1 will be a time for remembering, for smiling as we remember her quick wit, and thankfulness that we had her with us for almost 100 years.

From her son Bud: There is more than an empty feeling that we will not gather this year in person on her hundredth birthday …only in our memories. Empty because we no longer have a mother to love and hug on her birthday and on Mother’s Day. We miss you dearly, Mother.  

Since Mom loved her garden so much, near the garden seemed the best place for her tribute. We built a trellis in our garden area and had a plaque made with the inscription, "Mildred Davis, 1911- 2011" (see picture).  

We continue to honor her for her unselfish love, her grounding in the Bible, and her life lessons. Every day we hear her speaking to us: don’t get too big for your britches… dress modestly… pretty is as pretty does… you can do anything you set your mind to do. We know she is in a better place, one without pain or sorrow and we let her go because it is best for her. One final lesson from her would be: love and cherish family members as often as you can. We love you all.

I am sure I speak for all our family when I say our prayers and best wishes continue to be with all of Mildred's family on this special occasion of remembering and moving forward.
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Shepard Family Reunion
Aug 13, 2011
Anacortes, Washington