Thursday, September 29, 2016

"Misfits From the Start", September 29, 2016

Humans are things of shreds and patches,
borrowed unequally from good and bad ancestors,
and misfits from the start. 
~Ralph Waldo Emerson 

Happy Birthday, Alexandria! Today, September 29, is the 5th birthday of Alexandria Cotten, of San Antonio, Texas, the younger daughter of Heather and Sean Cotten, and the granddaughter of my cousin Paula Harrell Tuzzolino. Lexi is another one of the GG Grandchildren of Leroy and Nola Shannon Gower. 

This first picture was taken earlier this year and shows Lexi in a pleasant pastoral setting sharing a flower with her big sister Tori.

As I mentioned in my last post, September 29 is the anniversary of the wedding of Leroy and Nola Gower, in 1921 in Stone County, Arkansas. So their Great Great Grandaughter Lexi Cotten was born on their 90th wedding anniversary. Happy Birthday to Lexi and best wishes to her family.

Happy Birthday Cathrina! Today we celebrate another Texas milestone. It is the birthday of Cathrina Helms Clark. She and husband Jerry Clark live in Lubbock, Texas. Lubbock is where their base of operations is in their visits and love for the ten grandchildren they share between the two of them.

This second picture shows Cathrina celebrating with friends earlier this year. It wasn't her birthday celebration, but she was certainly in a festive mood.

Happy Birthday Kellan! This Saturday, October 1, is the birthday of Kellan Christopher Shepard who will celebrate his second birthday! Best wishes to Kellan and his mom Rachel Shepard, and his Grandparents Darrell and Mary Shepard, all of whom live in Bothell, Washington. 

Kellan is one of the youngest Great Grandchildren of my mother Maida Gower Shepard, the senior member of our family. This makes Kellan another of the Great Great Grandchldren of Leroy and Nola Gower.

This third picture shows Kellan with his grandfather, my brother Darrell Shepard.

Best wishes to all three of these families, from the heart of Texas to the Great Northwest. May their celebrations fill their homes with joy and thanksgiving.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Friday, September 23, 2016

Remembering the Past, Celebrating the Future, September 23, 2016

The past gives you an identity
and the future holds the promise of salvation. 
Both are illusions.
~Eckhart Tolle (The Power of Now)

95 years ago this month my Gower Grandparents were married. On September 29, 1921 Leroy Gower and Nola Shannon said their vows and began a relationship that would result in a wonderful family that today is spread over a large part of the US. They were married in the town of Timbo, in Stone County, Arkansas while living in the nearby town of New Nata, 9 miles west of Mountain View, Arkansas. At the time Leroy was 22 and Nola was just 18.

The first picture shows Leroy and Nola at their 50th anniversary celebration which took place in 1971. The location was the family home of their son-in-law and daughter, Eugene and Maida Gower Shepard, on Armstrong Street in San Diego. 

After marrying in Arkansas they lived 4 short years there, before moving to Okemah, Oklahoma with their first two children, Hendrix who was 3, and Maida who was a year old. In Oklahoma their 3rd child Vicki (Melva) was born. In 1942, during the second World War, they moved to San Diego where their family flourished and grew and where they lived most of the rest of their lives. 

Today less than a dozen of Nola and Leroy's descendants live in the San Diego area, while the rest of them are found in Western Washington, Texas, Arizona, Southern California and Indiana. Their oldest living descendant is my mother Maida Gower Shepard of Anacortes, Washington, while their youngest descendant is Finley Shepard of Seattle (see recent picture above). In between those two is a diverse clan of several dozen people with the last names Gower, Shepard, Johnston, Harrell, Tuzzolino, Aquiningoc, Sauvage, Bearden and Cotten.

Living in San Diego gives me a chance to visit important places in the life of our larger family in year's past. This third picture shows a beautiful building in Balboa Park that for many years was the home of the Balboa Park Baptist Church. It has undergone some renovation over the years but it still has the Angel Gabriel on top, the only part of it still owned by the Church. Leroy and Nola attended that church for many years in the middle years of the 20th century. Leroy was a leader of the congregation, while Nola was very dedicated to it in many other ways. The only time I remember being in the church was that very memorable occasion in December, 1974, when Grandpa Leroy's funeral took place there.

Among the youngest descendants of Leroy and Nola are the two mentioned below whose birthdays are this week. 

Happy Birthday Karver. Yesterday, September 22, was the second birthday of Karver Ryan Bearden, one of just two Great Great Great Grandchildren of Leroy and Nola Shannon Gower. He is the baby boy of Lyndsey Aquiningoc of Granbury, Texas, and Colton Bearden. Here is Karver's lineage: Lyndsey Aquiningoc / Kerri Shepard Aquiningoc / Gary Shepard / Maida Gower Shepard / Leroy and Nola Gower.

Mom Lyndsey posted this on Facebook yesterday: This day 2 years ago was the most amazing experience in my life! The love that I have for this boy gets stronger and stronger every day. Its hard to believe that he is 2 today! Happy birthday Karver! I love you more than I can ever explain. 

Happy Birthday VictoriaToday, September 23 is the 9th birthday of Victoria Cotten, the older daughter of Sean and Heather Robson Cotten. Tori is one of the 16 Great Great Grandchildren of Leroy and Nola Shannon Gower. Tori and her family live in Austin, Texas. Here is Tori's lineage: Heather Robson Cotten / Paula Harrell Tuzzolino / Vicki Gower Johnston / Leroy and Nola Shannon Gower.

Looking back, we celebrate with gratitude and joy the lives of Leroy and Nola Shannon Gower and the wonderful foundation they provided for all of us, their descendants. At the same time we honor these two young ones, and celebrate with them and their families.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Friday, September 09, 2016

Summer Adventures, September 9, 2016

It's a smile, it's a kiss, it's a sip of wine 
... it's summertime!
~Kenny Chesney

Feeling Great About Turning 68. Today is my 68th birthday, a reminder to me that life slips by much faster than we ever imagined. I look forward to celebrating the day with Cindy, our son Nathan, and our 3 grandkids Preslea, Logan and William. 

This first picture was taken earlier this summer at the La Jolla's Children's Pool here in San Diego and shows me with William and Logan enjoying a day at the beach. 

Happy Birthday Kelly. Monday, September 12, is the birthday of my niece Kelly Shepard Sauvage, daughter of my brother Gary Shepard and Jackie Perry. Born and raised in San Diego, Kelly and husband James live today in Weatherford, Texas with their sons Nate and Kyle. Best wishes to Kelly on her birthday!

This second picture was taken last month when Kelly and the boys were visiting in Las Vegas. It shows Kelly with Nate on the left and Kyle on the right enjoying a moment in front of the Circus Circus Hotel.

Summer Slide Show. This summer has been an exciting time for many of us. Adventurous, difficult and exhilarating are also words that could accurately describe the events of recent months. The following is a slide show of various happy gatherings around our Shepard and Gower families this summer. They are scenes of graduations, sporting events, several birthdays, a few holiday gatherings, beach parties, pool parties, hiking trips, and one snake handler. These scenes are of family in Washington, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, San Diego, Northern California and elsewhere. Thanks to all of you who have shared summer fun pictures on Facebook. Our extended family, despite our trials and tribulations, is a fun loving bunch who knows how to enjoy each other!

This slide show is to the musical accompaniment of songs by Elijah Kelly.

Japan Here We Come. I received word recently from my cousin Mike Harrell who lives with his wife Carole in Zionsville, Indiana. He tells me that next month he and Carole are going to Tokyo, Japan for Mike's work for an extended period of time. He wants me to let everyone know that if any of us find our way to Japan, to be sure and contact them. They would love to welcome visitors -- especially family -- from the U.S.! You are welcome to contact me if you would like more details. Best wishes to Mike with this employment opportunity, and to both of them on this exciting move to Japan.

In his email to me, Mike added this fascinating historical note: When he was born in the 1950s his mom and dad, Carl and Vicki Gower Harrell, were living in Tokyo. Carl was in the U.S. Military and stationed there. Mike was born in a hospital just one block away from where his work office today is located.

- - -
Steve Shepard