Monday, April 28, 2014

A Favorite Day of the Year, April 28, 2014

Change it had to come
We knew it all along...
But the world looks just the same
And history ain't changed
I'll tip my hat...
Smile and grin at the change 
all around me.
~Peter Townsend

Today is one of my favorite days of the year, a day to remember three of the finest people in the recent history of our family: my father, my maternal grandmother, and a cousin. All three were San Diegans for much of their lives, but none of the three were born in California.

Beverly Russell Wilk. Yesterday was the 75th anniversary of the birth of my cousin Beverly Russell Wilk, the oldest granddaughter of Will and Bura Davis Shepard, both of whom outlived her. Bev's untimely death came in 1974 at just 35 years old. Her descendants today are her daughter Shannon Wilk and her granddaughter Emma Beverly Jean Wilk of Atchison, Kansas. Most of our family members are too young to have known her, but she was a delightful person who had a beautiful disposition and loved all her family.

The first picture shows Beverly Russell with her cousin Barbara Shepard in 1961 when Bev was 22 and Barbara was just 2.

Eugene Shepard. Today is the birthday of my father Eugene William Shepard who died 11 years ago in 2003 in Anacortes, Washington. He was born in Beaver County, Oklahoma, but lived the largest part of his life in San Diego, California where all six of his and Maida's children were born. His parents and siblings moved to San Diego in 1940 where they lived for most of their lives. Dad retired in 1976 and moved with Maida to Anacortes in 1978 where he lived the last 25 years of his life. 

The second picture shows Eugene and Maida Shepard in a picture taken in the early 1970s, when they still lived in San Diego. In the early 1970s, many of us guys -- God only knows why! -- were sprouting a "frizzy 'do" such as dad has here. 

Maida and most of her and Eugene's family still live in Western Washington, although Maida has been known to find her way back to Southern California periodically for visits. 

The family picture shows her and the family in a picture taken just a week ago on Easter Sunday in San Diego where she and daughter Barbara are enjoying a visit with their California kin. On the far right is me holding our grandson Logan. Next to us is our son Nathan holding his daughter Preslea, and his wife Chenda holding their son William. On the far left is my wife Cindy next to Maida's daughter Barbara, and Jerry Clark. Maida is in the very middle with Cindy's mom Paula Harris just in front. 

Nola Shannon Gower. Today is also a day to remember my grandmother Nola Shannon Gower, who was born 111 years ago, on this day in 1903. Or was she?

Since 1940-something there has been a question about whether Nola was born in 1903 or 1902. When her sister had a birth certificate generated for Nola during World War II, the certificate said she was born in 1902, even though Nola swore she was born in 1903. There was never a question, however, about WHERE she was born and raised: Mountain View, Arkansas. She and husband Leroy relocated to Oklahoma for 17 years before moving on to San Diego in 1942 where they settled for the rest of their lives. 

The final picture of this post shows Nola on a park bench with a dog in 1990. Like many of the pictures in my library I am not positive who took it or where. The picture file says 1990. It may have been taken when she was visiting her granddaughter Gloria Watson in Knoxville, Tennessee. If so, credit for the photo should probably be given to cousin Gloria.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Echo of Wedding Bells, April 21, 2014

If we have no peace
it is because we have forgotten
that we belong to each other.
~Mother Theresa

Happy Easter Monday on this day after all the many celebrations around our larger family yesterday. The first picture is one I could not resist. It shows a slightly uneasy Kambree Bowman, daughter of Mandi Aquiningoc and granddaughter of my niece Kerri Shepard Aquiningoc, sitting on the lap of a rather unsettling Easter Bunny.

Happy Birthday Dominic and Isaac. This Wednesday, April 23 is the 2nd birthday of twins Dominic and Isaac Ortiz of Blue Springs, Missouri. They are the two youngest children of Jeremy and Desiree Ortiz, the grandchildren of Kim Boyd Clark, and the great grandchildren of Thelma Shepard Boyd. Thanks to mom Desiree for this second picture of Dominic and Isaac.

Desiree: Yes the boys are going to be 2 on the 23rd. I just can't believe it. Time goes by so fast when you have little ones. The last two years have been so much fun watching the two grow :) They are such sweet little guys and so smart.
They are finally starting to look like toddlers. They have looked like babies for so long that it's sad to see them grow out of that stage! We will celebrate their special day with the family at our home with a "Monster University" theme and a BBQ. It should make for a fun day!

Happy Birthday Susan and Amanda. This Friday, April 25 is the 34th birthday of another set of twins: Susan Clark Cox (of Lubbock, Texas) and Amanda Clark Farrell (of Bedford, Texas), the twin daughters of Jerry Clark and Jane Clark Brock of Lubbock, Texas. Best wishes to Susan and Amanda for a wonderful birthday.

The Echo of Wedding Bells. 250 years ago this month, in April, 1764, my 6X Great grandparents Mary Blackmore and John Van Buskirk were married in Washington County, Maryland. John's family had migrated to America from Holland in the mid 1600s (15 generations ago!), settling first in the New Jersey area, then Eastern Pennsylvania where John was born. Mary was originally from Maryland, near Hagerstown, which is where they married in 1764. 

They had only been married a few years, and were living north of Washington, DC, when the Revolutionary War began in 1776. Do the math: they were young marrieds, had children when the war heated up, and John was at an age to be a prime candidate for service in the Revolution. In addition they lived near the heart of the conflict. It was not the most opportune time to raise a family, but that is what came their way. 

One can only wonder what sacrifices this couple had to make. What courage did they have to muster to contribute to the cause of freedom from British oppression? How was their family life and their personal lives disrupted? What we do know for sure is that it was ancestors like Mary and John that made American history and contributed to the formation of our nation.

Jane Buskirk, a great granddaughter of John and Mary, married into the line of our Davis ancestors when she and Alexander Davis were married in Ohio about 1840. Around 1800 Jane's family had dropped the "Van" from their last name. In 1849 Jane and Alexander migrated with their kids to Spencer, Indiana where our ancestors settled for several generations before moving to Oklahoma in 1913 and then on to San Diego in 1940.

I mention the young Revolutionary era couple John and Mary Van Buskirk not only because this month marks their 250th wedding anniversary, but also because they illustrate how deeply rooted our ancestors are in American history. We carry within us the genes of folks who sacrificed tremendously in the birth of our nations, folks who experienced first hand what it was like to struggle for the right to be free. Within us are the secret memories of what it was like to be a family in critical historical times. It is that sense of history that enables us today to give our best to living as responsible citizens, honoring our past while embracing our future.

Here is a lineage that shows our family line to John and Mary Blackmore Van Buskirk, then on to the original Van Buskirks who immigrated from Holland:

  • Logan Shepard (b. 2011)
  • Nathan Shepard (b. 1977) - wife Chenda Sou (b. 1980)
  • Steve Shepard (b. 1948) - wife Cindy Harris (b. 1948)
  • Eugene Shepard (1921-2003) - wife Maida Gower (b. 1924)
  • Bura Davis (1896-1986) - husband William Shepard (1888-1876)
  • James Brooks Davis (1870-1928) - wife Carolyn Spear (1865-1951)
  • Charles Edward Davis (1849-1926) - wife Malinda Wright (1846-1920)
  • Jane Buskirk (1823-1895) - husband Alexander Davis (1819-1866)
  • William S. Buskirk (1804-1873) - wife Mary (Buskirk) (1809-1886)
  • George Van Buskirk (1767-1825) - wife Mary Rulon (1767-1828)
  • John Van Burkirk (1743-1829) - wife Mary Blackmore (1742-1823)
  • George Van Buskirk (1721-1800) - wife Sarah Ashton (1720-1779)
  • Johannes Van Buskirk (1694-1747) - wife Marytie Hooglandt (1696-1738)
  • Thomas Van Buskirk (1668-1748) - wife Margrete Brickers (1668-1719)
  • Laurens Van Buskirk (1630-1694) - wife Jannetje Jans (1629-1694): immigrants from Holland

- - -
Steve Shepard

Monday, April 14, 2014

Siblings Galore, April 14, 2014

Help your brother's boat across,
and your own will reach the shore.
~Hindu Proverb

Happy Birthday to Rachel! Today, Monday April 14, is the 27th birthday of my niece Rachel Shepard. She is one of the granddaughters of Maida Shepard and the daughter of Darrell and Mary Medina Shepard. Rachel lives with her folks in Kirkland, Washington.

The first picture is a collage of photos compiled by Rachel and posted on Facebook recently, in honor of Siblings Day this past Thursday, April 10, 2014. In the collage are Rachel with her 2 brothers Patrick and Christopher. The collection also works well as a celebration of Rachel's birthday! 

What? You've never heard of Siblings Day? Neither had I till I saw Rachel's post on Facebook. Wikipedia tells me that Siblings Day has been around for 15 years. In that time 39 state governors have issued proclamations recognizing it. Unfortunately our dear governor here in California is not one of the 39, which may be why it is not so well known in this great state. Why are we always behind the times here in California? (jk!) Even though it is not federally recognized (as is Mother's Day and Father's Day), awareness of Sibling's Day is growing. Recognized or not, it is a day worth observing, so kudos to Rachel for doing so!

I will even jump on the bandwagon and post here pictures of my siblings. The top part of this second picture was taken in 1970 and shows my parents Eugene and Maida Gower Shepard with my siblings: Gary, me and Linda sitting on the couch next to our parents; and Darrell, Russ and Barbara down in front. This was probably the last picture taken of all 6 siblings together. Linda died the following year.

The lower portion of this collection of pictures shows my siblings once again: Gary, me, Jerry, Darrell, Barbara and Russ. These pictures were all taken at our Shepard family reunion last summer in Anacortes, Washington, the most recent time we were all together. One difference in the 1970 picture and the 2013 pictures (besides the obvious changes that 43 years have wrought!) is the inclusion of Jerry Clark, who married my sister Linda in 1970, and has remained a part of our family ever since.

Senior Siblings. I have one other set of siblings that I want to highlight in this post. The third picture shows my mother Maida Gower Shepard and her sister Vicki Gower Johnston with their late brother Hendrix (Hank) Gower in a picture taken about 10 years ago. Hank died the year after this picture was taken.

Maida and Vicki both live today in Western Washington and are the senior siblings among us. Maida, who lives in Anacortes, was born in 1924, while Vicki, who lives in Oak Harbor, was born in 1933. They are daughters of the late Leroy and Nola Shannon Gower, and are both Great Grandmothers in their own right. Are there others among our extended family who also deserve to be honored as "senior siblings"?

Whoever your siblings are, and whatever their age may be, be thankful for them!
- - -
Steve Shepard

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

"Always Compete and Never Give Up", April 8, 2014

Attract what you expect,
reflect what you desire,
become what you respect,
mirror what you admire.

Today is the anniversary of my "brother" Jerry Clark and his wife Cathrina Clark, who were married in 2006 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. They live today in a beautiful home on the southside of Lubbock, Texas. Lubbock is where Jerry has lived and had his Year Book business for over 40 years. The first picture shows Jerry and Cathrina. Happy 8th Anniversary to them!

Jerry shared with me recently about an experience he had in Albuquerque where he grew up. I would like to pass on to you Jerry's reflections about a very formative experience from his High School years.

Part of my history while growing up in Albuquerque was attending Highland High where my brother and I both graduated (Terry ’62…me ’68). At that time HHS was one of the largest schools in New Mexico. Known as ‘Home of the Hornets’ or ‘the Hive’, as we referred to it. The ‘Hive’ gave me my favorite colors of blue and gold. Ask any of my family which color I will pick and they will all answer “yellow”.

I recently had the privilege of attending the New Mexico Sports Hall of Fame dinner in Albuquerque. My high school track coach, Henry Sanchez, and his son, Gary, were receiving recognition for their coaching tenure at HHS. Together they coached track 55 years at ‘the hive’. Henry coached 26 years and asked his son Gary to join him as he finished college. 
I found Gary about a year ago and asked him to pass my best wishes along to his dad. Thankfully Gary let me know about this event. 

Henry identified me during PE class and asked me to try out for the track team in 1966. He thought I would be a good hurdler because of my long legs. I told him I didn’t want to hurdle but that I did want to run. My senior year, all things came together for us as a team and we went undefeated and won state going away by more than 30 points. It was the highlight of my 3 years at HHS.I had run on a relay team my junior year and won a state ribbon for it but we came in third as a team. I was a small part of this team my senior year but I did play a big part in two relays, the 880 and sprint medley. We had the two fastest guys in the state on our team not to mention the fastest miler too. Guys like Charles Kaspar, Stan Hill and Robert Proctor were the real talent of this team along with sophomore Mike McEachern.

We travelled to Roswell, Amarillo and El Paso and had a close call only in the Tri-State meet against Amarillo high (We won 55 to 53). The state meet later in May was interrupted by rain on Saturday night and postponed half way thru the meet. We had to wait till the next day (at a different stadium) to win going away. The closest team, Hobbs, was 31 points behind us.

This was just one of Henry’s 10 state track titles. His son, Gary, won 5 state titles. Henry was also named the National HS Coach of the Year in 1983. I showed up at the banquet excited to get to see Henry again after 46 years, but found out that he had passed just 9 days earlier. It was a bittersweet feeling. I met his widow, daughters and nieces. What a great family this Sanchez clan is! It seemed like everyone in the room (a crowd of 600) was related to him and Gary. Gary did an excellent job of accepting tearfully for his hero...his dad. 

I never knew Coach Sanchez as a person… he was always my calm, assuring coach. He knew talent and how to develop it and use it. He did demand that you give it your all. His son Gary picked up the same traits.

Coach Sanchez, I am sorry that I didn’t get to see you at the banquet to let you know of your immense impact on my life. You gave me the drive to always compete and never give up. I know I will see you again somewhere beyond the blue….and gold.

Jerry's reflections remind me of how important early experiences are to our life today as members of our families. Thanks to Jerry for these remarks.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Thursday, April 03, 2014

"Faction Over Blood", April 3, 2014

"Faction over blood."
~Veronica Roth

Happy Birthday Nate! Today is the birthday of our son Nathan Shepard. Nathan, his wife Chenda and their three children moved earlier this year from the San Francisco Bay area and now live in the canyons of San Carlos, a community of San Diego. 

Nathan was born in San Diego but has spent most of his life in Northern California. He has worked for Wells Fargo Bank for 15 years, and enjoys playing hockey, visiting San Diego's New Children's Museum with the kids, tending to the family koi pond, and growing vegetables on the sunny deck outside his office (yes, really!).

Quite a Handful. The first picture, taken back in December, shows Nathan and Chenda, with their kids Preslea, William, and Logan. Standing behind them are Cindy and I. The second picture (below) was taken back in November and shows Nathan with their older son Logan. Happy Birthday to Nathan!

Happy Birthday Jim! Tomorrow is the birthday of my cousin Jimmie Gower, who has one of the easiest birthdays to remember: 4-4-44. Jim is the second son of the late Starlene and Hank Gower and with his wife Cheryl lives in Ft. Mohave, Arizona. A native of San Diego, Jim is the second grandchild of Leroy and Nola Shannon Gower.

Happy Birthday Ciara! Tomorrow is also the birthday of Ciara Ortiz, one of the GGgrandchildren of Will and Bura Shepard and the granddaughter of Kim Boyd Clark. Ciara lives with her family, including mom and dad Desiree and Jeremy Ortiz, in Blue Springs, Missouri. The picture below shows a chilly but smiling Ciara on a winter's day in Missouri.

Reflections on Family and Film. The quote at the top of this post -- "Faction over blood" -- is from the recently released film Divergent. In the film, and the novel from which it came, Veronica Roth shares a dark vision of the future where every person is placed in a particular "Faction", based upon an aptitude test. One's "Faction" is all important and determines the rest of one's life. 

The "Faction" is even more important than one's family. "Faction over blood" becomes a binding motto that guides a person's life. Is the author envisioning a time when family ties become irrelevant or even forbidden? In the future will the State finally conclude that the institution of family is so broken, that it can no longer be tolerated? In Roth's vision of things to come, it would seem so. 

Ironically, in the film the family relationships of the protagonist are the most human and compelling of all the relationships in her life. As a result, the motto "Faction above blood," has a hollow, unrealistic ring to it. I am reminded of that great dichotomy of family relationships: they can be the most maddening, painful and crazy relationships in all of life. Yet there is nothing else that can give us the same sense of humanness and fulfillment. And from all indications, even the darkest of imagined futures will never change that.
- - -
Steve Shepard