Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Valentines Day! February 14, 2017

How did it happen that their lips came together?
How does it happen that birds sing, 
that snow melts, that the rose unfolds?
A kiss, and all was said.
~Victor Hugo

Happy Valentine's Day today! This is a day for wonderful celebrations of love when we lift up the joy of a simple kiss. This particular holiday could not be more appropriate for our Shepard family these days, because these are difficult times. I'm not talking about political drama. I am talking about life in our family in recent months.

The last year has been one of the most difficult years ever for us Shepards. All families go through periods of difficulty, times when things are tough, and when family relationships experience some strain. All of us can remember occasions when a particular family member was having a hard time, or when someone lost their job, or when a divorce occurred, or when some other stressful situation created strain on the entire family.

But this past year our family has been shaken like never before. My mom has developed some memory issues which have required some reordering of our family life, and it has been difficult as we have sought to adjust. It has led to some challenging conflicts within our ranks. For these reasons it seems appropriate to share the following video. We need this. It is about love and affection, which seem to be in short supply right now.

The video below includes some images you have seen before, but most of them are pictures you have probably never seen. The new pictures include a young couple in Texas, some youngsters smooching in Seattle, a grandmother in Oklahoma, lovers embracing in Paris, and much more. All these images show family members doing what they do best: loving one another. Thanks to all of you who made these pictures available and who had the joy of taking them!

As Time Goes By. Let this video be our reminder that Valentines Day holds the key to our future as a family. After all, choosing to love is our only hope. This YouTube video is set to the music of Queen Latifah and Rod Stewart, singing "As Time Goes By."


Show me the love. For the last couple of years I have given a "Show Me The Love" award on Valentine's Day to a member of our family from our past who exemplified love in their life. Yesterday was a day of remembrance for one of our family members who is no longer with us, my cousin Gloria Harrell Watson, who died 11 months ago. 
Gloria grew up in San Diego with the other 11 grandchildren of Leroy and Nola Gower. But she lived her adult life in Knoxville, Tennessee, where she died last March. 

Back in the late 1990s -- some 20 years ago -- when our Grandmother Nola Gower was in her 90s, she had knee replacement surgery. Gloria came to San Diego from Tennessee to be with Grandmother through her surgery. It was an act of love with which I was impressed. So this year the "Show Me The Love" award goes to Gloria, for her generosity of time and expense to travel all that way to be with Grandma Gower in her time of need. It was just one more act of kindness that led to her family's decision to bury Gloria in Greenwood Cemetery in San Diego alongside Grandma Gower.
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Steve Shepard

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

"Family Life: Full of Ups and Downs", February 7, 2017

Family life is full of ups and downs,
success and failure
and all kinds of characters...
It's difficult to imagine
anything more nourishing to the soul.
~Thomas More

Happy Birthday Paula. Today is the birthday of my cousin Paula Harrell Tuzzolino. Paula is one of the 12 grandchildren of Leroy and Nola Shannon Gower. She and husband Frank Tuzzolino live in Sun Lakes, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix. Paula and Frank live just a short ways from her mom Vicki Gower Johnston, who lives in a senior group home in Chandler, Arizona. Paula has spent much of her time this winter in Oak Harbor, Washington where she lived for many years. Best wishes to Paula for a very happy birthday! 

This first family picture was taken just 2 years ago and shows Paula and her sister Gloria Watson in Oak Harbor, Washington at the home of their mother Vicki and her late husband Duke Johnston. This picture is also an opportunity to remember Gloria who passed away just 11 months ago, and whose birthday would be next week, the day before Valentines Day.

Phillip Wilk: 1935-2007. I am also remembering Phil Wilk, who was born 82 years ago this week. He was the parent of two young children in 1974 when his wife, my cousin Beverly Russell Wilk, died unexpectedly in San Diego. It was a tragic death that rocked the Shepard, Russell and Wilk families. Originally from Leavenworth, Kansas, Phil lived over 35 years in San Diego but spent his last years in Atchison, Kansas, which is where his partner Frank, his daughter Shannon, and his granddaughter Emma still live today. Phil died in Kansas 10 years ago.

His daughter Shannon told me a few years ago: "Dad LOVED to cook. Watching the cooking shows, and trying new stuff out on us! That's where I got my love of cooking. I also remember many of his stories. Once his oldest sister Paula was getting ready to go out, when silk stockings were in fashion, the kind with the line down the back of the leg. Due to the silk shortage, she would draw a line down her legs, to look like she was wearing them. Dad  would wait till she got half way done, then jump out and scare her, and she would have to start all over again. He would always laugh when he told that one. He had one of those voices that just drew you in and you would listen, calming in a way."

This second family picture was taken in Valley Center (a suburb of San Diego) in 1983, at the home of long time family friends Rod and Violet Ramirez. In the middle in the red shirt is Phil with his children Karl and Shannon in front of him. On the left are Gary and Cindy Shepard, and Bill and Pauline Russell. Cindy and I and Nathan are on the right with my cousin Dane Shepard.

Valentine's Day Pictures, Anyone? Next week I will include a Family Photo presentation for Valentine's Day. Do you have pictures of family members kissing or hugging? I invite you to email them to me so that I can include them in the presentation.
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Steve Shepard

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Looking Toward Ground Hog Day, February 1, 2017

You are who you are - not your parents.
~Leslie Burke

William Elmer Shepard (1862-1915). Tomorrow, February 2, will mark the anniversary of the birth of my Great Grandfather William Elmer Shepard. William Elmer is one of the most compelling and fascinating persons in our Shepard family tree. He was born in 1862, the same year his father died in the Civil War. When a teenager he became estranged from his mother and step-father, and set out on his own. He is also the person whose only brother chose to spell his last name "Shepherd". 

As a young vagabond in the early 1880s, William Elmer settled in Madison County, Illinois, where he met and married Elvira Owens. With her he made his own family, happier than any family he ever had. They and their 2 children William and Sadie ended up moving to Oklahoma where they lived the rest of their lives. On this 155th anniversary of his birth we celebrate his life and honor his memory.

Sadie Shepard Pruett (1892-1980). Last Friday marked the 125th anniversary of the birth of Sadie Shepard Pruett, daughter of the aforementioned William Elmer Shepard. Sadie was the sister of my grandfather William Shepard.

Sadie and William were the only two children of William Elmer Shepard and Elvira Owens Shepard of Madison County, Illinois. William was born in 1888 in the Mississippi River town of Alton, Illinois, while Sadie was born January 27, 1892 when the family lived a few miles south of Alton in the town of Venice, also in Madison County.

When Sadie was barely a teenager, this small Shepard family of four moved from Illinois to Beaver County in the panhandle of Oklahoma. A few years later young Sadie, who lived in the small farming community of Sophia, met a neighbor who lived in nearby Elmwood, a fellow named Levy Pruett who was 10 years her senior. Sadie and Levy were married in the town of Beaver, Oklahoma on June 22, 1910 and spent 58 years together. 

The first image shows a copy of Levy and Sadie's wedding license from 1910. You can click on the image to get a larger view of it.

Sadie and Levy had three daughters, Alberta, Gayle and Twila, who gave them four grandchildren, Norman, Steven, Shawna and Lisa, and then an assortment of Great Grandchildren. Lisa Allred Parks is the granddaughter who contacted me online a few months ago and began a conversation that has connected me to Sadie's descendants like never before. Today Levy and Sadie's descendants live primarily in Oklahoma and North Texas.

Sadie and Levy lived and farmed in Beaver County for many years, although the 1910 US Census indicates that she was a public school teacher at the time she and Levy were married. They made their life in the Oklahoma panhandle, in contrast to Sadie's brother William Shepard who settled in California in 1940. Sadie and Levy did travel to California a number of times to visit brother William and his family.

The second image is one I have shared before in this blog. It shows Sadie and Levy Pruett while on a visit to California in 1946. This picture was taken when the family took a day trip across the border to Tijuana, Mexico. In the very middle of this image, in the black dress, is Sadie Shepard Pruett. In back row in the middle is her husband Levy Pruett. On either side of Levy and directly in front of him are 3 other members of the Pruett family visiting from Oklahoma: Glen Barker, Gayle Pruett Barker, and Alberta Pruett Getz. The others pictured here are members of the Russell and Shepard families who were living in San Diego.

Sadie died 2 days after her 88th birthday, in Oklahoma where she had lived for 75 years, ever since she had moved from Illinois as a school girl in about 1905. She and Levy rest alongside other family and friends in Sophia Cemetery, the longtime burial ground in Beaver County located in the community where they spent most of their lives.

Happy Birthday Cindy Shepard. Tomorrow (Ground Hog Day!) is the birthday of Cindy Ann Shepard, the wife of my brother Gary Shepard. Cindy and Gary live in Oak Harbor, Washington and are among the caregivers for our 92 year old mother Maida Shepard of nearby Anacortes, Washington. 

Last week I visited with the family in Washington and took this picture which shows my brother Gary and his wife Cindy on the right, and me and my wife Cindy on the left. Best wishes to Cindy for a very happy birthday!
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Steve Shepard