Thursday, April 28, 2016

As Long As You Are Remembered, April 28, 2016

You live as long as you are remembered.
~Russian proverb

If family history is about anything, it is about remembering important people of our past whose influence effects us far beyond their span of years. All three of the primary individuals featured in this post are people who even today have a significant impact on my life. This post also continues my April theme of siblings, by picturing three more sets of siblings in our family.

Eugene Shepard (1921-2003). 95 years ago today my father Eugene Shepard was born in the small town of Logan, in Beaver county, in Oklahoma's panhandle. He died 13 years ago in Anacortes, Washington where he lived the last 25 years of his life. He was raised in Oklahoma but came to San Diego with his family during World War II and spent nearly 40 years here before moving to Washington.

One of my favorite pictures of my dad was taken at the La Jolla Children's Pool, on the walkway along the Sea Wall, which was built in 1931. In the picture, taken about 1941, he is with his brother Elmer Shepard. Their parents William and Bura Shepard had moved their family from Oklahoma to Southern California just a year or so earlier.

I happen to be at that same location a few weeks ago with my Grandsons, and took a picture of the two of them. On the left in the composite picture below are brothers Elmer (about 23 years old) and Eugene Shepard (about 20 years old). On the right are brothers William and Logan Shepard, children of Nathan and Chenda Shepard of San Diego. The boys are two of the Great Grandsons of Eugene Shepard. In this picture they are at about the same location on the Sea Wall walkway, which has changed very little over the last 75 years.

Nola Shannon Gower (1903-2004). I am also remembering today the birthday of my grandmother Nola Shannon Gower who died 12 years ago. She was born 113 years ago today outside Mountain View, Arkansas. She and her family spent 17 years in Okemah, Oklahoma before moving to San Diego where she lived most of the rest of her long life.

There will always be a question about the year she was born, whether it was 1902 or 1903. She always believed it was 1903. But during World War II when she went to work in the airplane industry in San Diego a birth certificate was requested from Stone County, Arkansas. They created a birth certificate on the mistaken testimony of her sister, stating she was born in 1902. So for the rest of her life the Government had her birth as April 28, 1902. Her gravestone in San Diego also says 1902. But she was undoubtedly born in 1903. All of the United States Federal Censuses available to us show that she was born in 1903. Even so, when she died in 2004, there is no doubt she was among the oldest members ever of our family, at 101 years old (or 102).

The image above is another composite historical photo. The left hand portion, taken in front of the Shepard home on Ulric Street in San Diego in 1950, shows Nola at 47 with two of the 5 Grandchildren she had at the time, siblings Gary Shepard and Linda Shepard. The right hand portion was also taken in San Diego, at the Gower home on Lynn Street, some 43 years later. It also shows Nola and her Grandson Gary Shepard.

Beverly Jean Russell Wilk (1939-1974). Yesterday would have been the 77th birthday of my cousin Beverly Russell Wilk, had she not died of a brain aneurysm at just 35 years old. At the time of her death in the mid-70s, she and husband Phil Wilk were the parents of two young children, Karl and Shannon. They were living in San Diego, had promising careers and had their whole lives ahead of them. Karl died in 1969, but Shannon and her daughter Emma live today in Atchison, Kansas, near Leavenworth, her late father Phil Wilk's home town.

This third picture was taken in the early 1970s in San Diego and shows the young couple Phil Wilk and Beverly Russell Wilk with their first child Karl. 

Our family tree is populated with numerous people whose lives we gladly remember, people who lived in such a way that even today we continue to be inspired by them. These are just a few such individuals.
- - - 
Steve Shepard

Saturday, April 23, 2016

April Siblings Continue, April 23, 2016

There are two things in life for which
we are never truly prepared: twins.
~Josh Billings

"Siblings" seem to be the theme of April in this blog. The last two posts have honored siblings among us and have recognized the oldest and the youngest sibling pair among us. 

Siblings Dominic and Isaac. Today, April 23, is the 4th birthday of two more siblings who are among the younger ones among us: twins Dominic and Isaac Ortiz. They live in San Diego and are the youngest children of Desiree and Jeremy Ortiz. They are among the youngest of the Great Great Grandchildren of William and Bura Davis Shepard.

Desiree: We are all doing great here in Sunny San Diego! The twins -- aka Isaac and Dominic -- will celebrate their 4th birthday this Saturday, April 23rd. Jeremy and I definitely cannot believe that they will be 4 years old. These boys are amazing! They have come so far from the day they entered this world. 

Though they are still little for their age you would never know the struggles they had from birth. They are smart, talented and the most loving little guys ever! They are attending speech therapy and absolutely love it. They want to start school so bad but mom's not quite ready for that. This is a pic of them recently attending their brother's baseball game with Uncle Darren.

Happy Birthday and best wishes to Dominic and Isaac and their family!

Siblings Susan and Amanda. Another pair of twins in our extended family will have birthdays this month, on Monday, April 25. They are the younger daughters of Jerry Clark and Jane Clark Brock. Susan Clark Cox and Amanda Clark Farrell turn 36 on Monday. Susan lives in Lubbock, Texas, is married to Andrew, and is the mother of 3; while her twin Amanda lives in Frisco, Texas, is married to Chris, and is the mother of 8 month old Easton.

This second picture is an oldie and was taken when the Shepards and the Clarks took a vacation together in Banff, Canada back in the summer of 1987. On the left (in the pink sweatshirt) is Amanda and on the right is her twin Susan. Also pictured are Nate Shepard and the twins' older sister Becky Clark.

Happy 36th birthday on Monday to Amanda and Susan!
- - -
Steve Shepard

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

"The Best Is Yet To Be", April 20, 2016

Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
the last of life,
for which the first was made.
~Robert Browning

In my last post regarding Siblings Day I referred to my mom Maida and her sister Vicki. I said that with combined ages of 173, they were among the oldest siblings we have ever had in our family. I heard from two different people who shared with me some family data that helps to complete that picture.

Two More Senior Siblings of Note. My wife Cindy reminded me that her mom and sister, right here in San Diego, are 92 and 94 years old respectively, and have combined ages of 186. Cindy's mom Paula Harris and Paula's older sibling Juanita Eeds have lived in their house on Burgundy Street for close to 40 years. In 1957 Paula and her late husband Joe Harris first bought that home in the Allied Gardens community of San Diego. Next year Paula will celebrate 60 years living in that location. Congratulations to Paula and Juanita on being such good examples of healthy longevity within our family!

This first picture shows Paula and Juanita last August in San Diego on the occasion of Juanita's 94th birthday. Also in this picture are Cindy on the left and my sister Barbara on the right, who were celebrating Juanita's birthday with her.

I also mentioned in my last post that in February of 1999 my Great Uncle Lawrence was 101 and his sister, my Great Aunt Marjorie was 92. That year their combined ages were 193, which seemed to me the record setter for siblings anywhere in our extended family.

Setting the Sibling Record Straight. After that post I received word from cousin Carolyn Kilpatrick Roberts of Bolivar, Missouri. Her mother was Winona Davis Kilpatrick, sister of my Grandmother Bura Davis Shepard. Carolyn corrected the statement in my last post about Lawrence and Marjorie Davis being the oldest siblings ever in our extended family.

Carolyn: "You cited Aunt Marjorie and Uncle Lawrence but my mother Winona was older than Marjorie and was still living in 1999. She died in February of 1999 at the age of 95 so that, added to uncle Lawrence at 101, is 196 combined years."

So there you have it. 196 years for a single pair of siblings. It happened in 1999 in our family. Can anyone else find any other pair of siblings whose combined ages at any single point in history totaled more than 196?

This second picture is one I have not shared in this blog for a couple of years now. It is an absolute classic and one of the most amazing 100+ year old photos in our family history archives. It shows James Brooks Davis, his wife Callie and their 7 children. The children standing across the back are Winona, Myra, Bura and Lawrence. In the very middle is Jesse. The youngest ones in the front are Marjorie and Esther. This picture was taken in 1908 in Spencer, Indiana, 5 years before the family moved to Oklahoma.

A Unique Family. James Brooks Davis and his wife Callie Spear Davis were married in 1896 in Spencer, Indiana. In 1913 they packed up their family and migrated to Beaver County, Oklahoma where some of their descendants live to this day. They were healthy Hoosiers, simple farming folk, heartland Americans, whose simple lifestyle contributed to a wholesome family life. They were "dyed in the wool" Church people who honored family and cared for others. Both the Davis and Spear families from which James and Callie came were "Restoration Movement" Church people who had their roots in early 19th century Ohio.

We have other exemplary family circles among us, but this particular family unit -- all of whom are gone now -- is a special example. It is no wonder that two of their members, Lawrence and Winona, are the senior siblings ever in our family. With people living longer these days, their record will probably be broken one day - maybe in my lifetime. Even so, we will do well to remember with respect and admiration the family of James and Callie Davis.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Happy Siblings Day! April 10, 2016

Friends are the siblings
God never gave us.

Today is National Siblings Day, a fairly new holiday that celebrates brothers and sisters. It is not one of the more popular holidays on the calendar but it is one that has special relevance to families, and therefore to family blogs like this one.

On this special day I must offer my deepest gratitude for my 4 Washington siblings: Gary, Darrell, Barb and Russ. They all live near our mother Maida Shepard in Anacortes, Washington and are helping to care for her as her needs grow greater the more she moves into her 90s. Kudos to them for their love and dedication to our mom. 

Mason and Logan on Easter Sunday
Junior Siblings. On this Siblings Day we celebrate the junior siblings among us, who have a combined age of just 3: Mason Shepard (1 year old) and his brother Logan J. Shepard (2 years old) of Bothell, Washington. They are the sons of Nicole and Patrick Shepard, and 2 of the grandchildren of my brother Darrell and his wife Mary Shepard. This first picture shows Mason and Logan enjoying a happy moment on Easter Sunday.

Senior Siblings. The senior siblings among us are my mother Maida Gower Shepard of Anacortes, Washington and her sister Vicki Gower Johnston of Chandler, Arizona. Their combined ages are 173 years. There are no other siblings in our midst, who I know of, whose combined ages come even close to that number. We honor them for their longevity and for their special place in our hearts. Do any of you know of siblings in our extended families whose combined ages total more than 173? If so, please let me know.

Maida and Vicki in Chandler, Arizona
This second picture shows Maida (on the left) and Vicki when they were reminiscing recently over a family photo album, enjoying a very special visit with one another. This picture was taken last month when my mom Maida came to San Diego and we made a trip to Arizona to see her sister. Vicki lives in a beautiful home in the Phoenix suburb of Chandler, very near her daughter Paula and husband Frank Tuzzolino. 

Family History Trivia Question. Here is a family history trivia question appropriate for Siblings Day: Has there ever been two siblings in our family whose ages at any particular moment in history have totaled more than 173 years? Thing about it. The answer is below. 

Happy Birthday to my niece Rachel Shepard this coming Thursday, April 14. Rachel is the aunt of the above mentioned junior siblings, Mason and Logan Shepard. Rachel and her son Kellan live in Bothell, Washington. Best wishes to Rachel for a wonderful 29th birthday.

Rachel and Kellan Shepard
This third picture shows Rachel with son Kellan. This was taken in front of a Halloween scarecrow when their family was out pumpkin hunting this past October.

Jerry and Cathrina, Celebrating 10 Years! This past Friday Jerry and Cathrina Clark of Lubbock, Texas celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary. Jerry is also one of my siblings, something of a "secret sibling". No, I did not say "pseudo sibling". That would suggest he has not really been incorporated into our family. The fact is that he became one of us back in 1970 when he married my late sister Linda, and we have refused over the years to let him go! Congratulations to my brother-by-another-mother Jerry and his wife Cathrina on 10 years of marriage, and best wishes for many more years together. 

Back to the trivia question... There have been a number of individuals in our family who lived a long time: Elmer Shepard, William Shepard, Marjorie Davis, Nola Shannon Gower, and Finetta Dearien to name just a few. But to find siblings whose combined ages totaled more than 173 you have to go back to my Grandmother Bura Davis Shepard (1896-1986). In 1986, the last year of Bura's life, she was 89 years old and, at that time, her younger brother Lawrence Davis was 88 years old. Their combined ages that year were 177, four years more than the combined ages of Maida and Vicki today.

In 1999, however, the last year of uncle Lawrence Davis' life, he was 101 years old, and his younger sister Marjorie Davis Millikan Williams was 91 years old. That year the combined ages of siblings Lawrence and Marjorie was an astounding 192 years, a total that has never been matched in our family history. In the year 2026 -- God willing! -- Maida and Vicki will break that record.

This is a bit of trivia to be sure, but it points to something quite significant. In our family there are instances of significant longevity. We and our ancestors seem to age pretty well. There are, of course, some in our family who died way too young. But looking at the big picture, we have a large number of relatives who lived long lives. Why do you think that is so?
- - -
Steve Shepard

Sunday, April 03, 2016

A Case of Mind Over Matter, April 3, 2016

Age is strictly a case of mind over matter.
If you don't mind, it doesn't matter.
~Jack Benny 
(who is remembered
for celebrating
his 39th birthday
41 times!)

Happy Birthday Nathan! Today is the birthday of our son Nathan Shepard. Nate lives here in San Diego with his wife Chenda and three children, Preslea, Logan and William. 

Originally from San Diego, Nate lived in the San Francisco Bay area for many years before moving back to Southern California two years ago. He has worked for Wells Fargo Bank for over 15 years, and enjoys camping, hockey and staying active with his family.

This first picture was taken last week during spring break at the amazing rocks of Joshua Tree National Park and shows Nathan and Chenda and their children.

The YouTube musical slide show above includes a number of images from the last year in celebration of Nathan's birthday today, set to his musical choice: Duo De Twang, "Staying Alive". Best wishes for a great birthday!

Birthday Wishes to Ciara Ortiz! Monday, April 4, is the birthday of Ciara Ortiz of El Cajon, California. Ciara is the oldest of the 5 children of Jeremy and Desiree Ortiz of El Cajon, California, and the granddaughter of Kim Boyd Clark of Blue Springs, Missouri. Her proud Great Grandmother is my aunt Thelma Shepard Boyd. She is also one of the Great Great Grandchildren of William and Bura Davis Shepard.

This picture, which was taken last September, shows Ciara Ortiz in the middle with her brother Damian and her sister Ashlyn. Best wishes to Ciara for a very happy 14th birthday!

Jim Gower. Monday, April 4, is also the birthday of my cousin Jim Gower who, last I heard, lived in Ft. Mohave, Arizona. I have lost touch with Jim and his wife Cheryl in recent years and would like to make contact once again. If any of you can help please let me know.
- - -
Steve Shepard