Friday, December 26, 2014

A Christmas Birth, December 26, 2014

Joy to the world
the Lord has come,
Let earth receive her king.
~Isaac Watts

Remembering William Shepard. Yesterday, Christmas Day 2014, was the 126th anniversary of the birth of my late Grandfather William Shepard, who was born on December 25, 1888.

Granddad was a unique individual, with endless stories to tell his 12 grand-kids about life in the Midwest and then the Southwest in the early 20th century. He was quite the story teller later in his life -- much more so than any of his children, including my own father -- and loved to recall events from his early years. Whenever he had the opportunity he would reminisce about everything from the spectacular Saint Louis World's Fair of 1904, to the ugly racial conflicts of the Saint Louis area where he was raised, to chasing the renegade Indian Cochise in New Mexico, to making the 1,200 mile journey from Colorado to California in pre-World War II days. He lived a remarkable life, being quite a rambler at times, in ways that made life difficult as a young family man. But he found grounding and direction from his wife Bura to whom he was married for 61 years.

He was the first born child of William Elmer Shepard and Elvira Owens Shepard of Alton, Illinois. Granddad did not know a lot about his Shepard family since his own father had been estranged from his Indiana family since the days of his youth. His mother's Owens family was well established in Madison County, Illinois and there is plenty of information about their place in the history of that particular part of Western Illinois.

As a youth of about 16 Granddad's family moved from Madison County, Illinois to Beaver County, Oklahoma where he met and married Bura Davis with whom he had 4 children, including my father Eugene Shepard. In 1928 William and Bura moved their family to Colorado, and then in 1940 on to San Diego. That's where William's family grew and flourished, and where he died in 1976 just a few weeks short of his 88th birthday. He is buried with his wife Bura in Greenwood Cemetery here in San Diego, alongside several other family members, including their oldest daughter Pauline Shepard Russell. (See first picture of William and daughter Pauline from 1958.)

Pauline Shepard Russell. Speaking of Pauline, this Sunday, December 28, is the 98th anniversary of her birth. She was William and Bura Shepard's oldest child, born in Oklahoma in 1916. She and her husband Bill Russell were my aunt and uncle and were wonderful people who contributed much to the happiness of our family life here in San Diego from the time the Shepards arrived in 1940. Pauline died in the San Diego area 60 years after settling here, and just a few years after uncle Bill. Their direct descendants today are Eric Russell of Red Rock, Nevada, and Shannon and Emma Wilk of Atchison, Kansas.

A 46th Anniversary. Tomorrow, December 27, is the 46th wedding anniversary of Cindy and me. We were married here in San Diego in 1968 by Edwin Kilpatrick, the minister of the Linda Vista Church of Christ, to which my family belonged. Edwin was the logical choice since his family and my grandmother Davis' family had had close ties for several generations, both in Oklahoma and here in California. (By the way, that family connection continues. Earlier this month I bumped into one of Edwin's cousins Richard Indermill who -- surprise! -- lives about a mile from us and who I had not seen in several decades.)

It has been quite a 46 year journey for Cindy and me, from San Diego to Lubbock and then Abilene, Texas and then back to California where we have lived in a variety of places including Los Alamitos, Palo Alto, Dorrington and now San Diego again. I consider myself extraordinarily fortunate to have such a wonderful life partner with whom I have shared all these years. Life has never been better for us, with our son Nathan, his wife Chenda and their 3 children close by.
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Steve Shepard

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