Sunday, May 20, 2018

Celebrating Elmer Shepard, May 20, 2018

An ounce of blood is worth more
than a pound of friendship.
~Spanish Proverb

Celebrating the 100th birthday of the late Elmer James Shepard (1918-2012).

Elmer Shepard with his sister Thelma Shepard Boyd, 2009
100 years ago today my uncle Elmer James Shepard was born in Logan, Oklahoma. The second child of William and Bura Shepard, Elmer had one older sibling, a sister Pauline, two years his senior. His younger brother Eugene (my father) was born three years later. Elmer's last sibling, Thelma, was born 18 years after him. When Elmer was born the Shepards lived on a farm in the sparsely populated community of Logan in Beaver County, in the panhandle of Oklahoma. Will and Bura were still a young couple at 29 and 21 years old, and had been married less than three years.

Elmer's maternal grandparents, James Brooks Davis and Callie Davis, were also dirt farmers and lived nearby. His widowed paternal grandmother, Elvira Owens Shepard, also lived in close proximity. 1918, the year Elmer was born, she married Cal Williams, a neighbor and church friend 17 years younger than her. (Read more about that conflicted tale here.)

Elmer James Shepard probably believed he was named after his grandfather James Brooks Davis (1870-1928). But little did he know that among his Shepard ancestors, James was also a common name. Elmer's Great Grandfather (who he probably never knew about) was named James Cross Sheppard, Jr. (1813-1887), as was his Great Great Grandfather James Cross Sheppard, Sr. (1775-1843).
Elmer Shepard, 1940s

Elmer was raised on a farm in Oklahoma and then in Southeast Colorado where his family moved when he was 10 years old. His father had several different jobs during those depression years of Elmer's youth and was away from home for periods of time. Elmer became the man of the house and did a good job of being responsible for the family. He came to adulthood just in time for World War II and was a pilot during the war. That conflict was one factor in the family's 1940 move to San Diego where Elmer and his wife Beryl Swinney Shepard lived for 30 years. In San Diego during the 1950s their two children, Dane and Joan were born and raised.

Dane emailed me a few days ago with the following comments:

Thanks for your continuing efforts in chronicling our family's past and your consideration of my father. I have a few comments to offer regarding Elmer.

As many who were born early in the last century, he saw and experienced great and life-altering changes. From the humble beginning of dry-dirt farming in the panhandle of Oklahoma, he never dreamed of co-piloting a B-17 and being an aircraft examiner in the civil service in San Diego, California, specializing in helicopters. He was one who accepted responsibility willingly, and being the oldest son, he found himself walking behind a team of plow horses at an early age. In fact, he missed a year of elementary schooling working the farm in his father's absence. Fortunately, he had already skipped a grade so he remained on track. His love of farming remained with him as he enjoyed growing various kinds of fruit trees and plants on our terraced property in Lakeside. When he and Beryl moved to east Texas on his retirement, he purchased a tractor and continued to farm there as well. His willingness to serve and his devotion to God was seen in his role as a deacon/treasurer and elder for the church of Christ for around 40 years. He was a good provider to the family in many ways, and I will always be thankful for his dedicated, willing service to us and others. For myself, growing up and working in southern California for 55 years, I never dreamed I would now be residing in Oklahoma! We must grow where we are planted as we have seen in many who were before us.

Gratefully, Dane.

Elmer is just one part of our wonderful family history. I am grateful for his life on this the 100th anniversary of his birth. It is important to remember family members like Elmer so we can be reminded of those who went before us, people whose DNA we share, and whose lives and hardships, whose dreams and aspirations, continue to inspire us. They ground us in our values and customs and show us the way to quality living.
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Steve Shepard

Monday, May 14, 2018

New Adventures, May 14, 2018

Your brothers, your sisters,
your children, your parents....
Make no mistake your relationships
are the heaviest components in your life.
-Ryan Bingham

Happy Birthday Thelma and Courtney! Today is the birthday of my Aunt Thelma Shepard Boyd. It is also the birthday of Thelma's granddaughter Courtney Boyd Slaughter of San Diego. Best wishes to Thelma and Courtney for a very happy birthday! These days Thelma is a vagabond with her daughter Kim Boyd Clark and Kim's husband Jeff Clark, as they travel in their RV. Much of the time they find themselves in the San Diego area near the grandchildren and other family. I caught up with them a few weeks ago when we all had a wonderful lunch together at a favorite restaurant in San Diego.

Kim Boyd Clark
and her mom Thelma Shepard Boyd
Gluten Free RV. On a related note, my cousin Kim Boyd Clark tells me that as a part of the "New Adventure" that she and Jeff have started, she has begun a new blog. It is titled "Going Gluten-Free in My RV." The first picture I am sharing today shows Kim and Thelma in a recently picture. Kim shared these comments recently on Facebook:

We are loving our RV life. Since I have known about celiac disease for 3 year's now I thought it would be great to share with you some gluten free products and recipes that I like. Eating gluten free can be challenging at times. Please feel free to share any gluten free recipes or products you would like to. Also you can share any neat places you have camped at. I would love to hear about your discoveries also. My blog is brand new and I have never done this before but I am determined to get going and interesting. Let's have fun sharing our experiences.

Select this link to visit Kim's Blog.

Chris, Barbara, Finley and Maida Shepard
Happy Birthday Christopher Shepard! Today is also the birthday of my nephew Christopher Shepard. Chris is the oldest child of Mary and Darrell Shepard of Bothell, Washington. Chris and Jessica and little Finley live in Seattle, Washington. Chris works at a Senior Health Care facility in Seattle and enjoys spending time with Jessica and Finley. This second picture shows Chris with his Aunt Barbara, Grandmother Maida and daughter Finley when they were visiting Maida and Barbara in Anacortes, Washington a few weeks ago. Thanks to Jessica for taking this picture. Best wishes for a very happy birthday to Christopher!

Happy Birthday Logan! Tomorrow is the 7th birthday of our Grandson Logan! Born in San Francisco, Logan is the son of Nathan and Chenda and one of Cindy's and my grandchildren. He is a happy first grader and looking forward to a trip to LEGOLAND for his special day. Select the link below for a YouTube video celebrating Logan's birthday.

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Steve Shepard

Saturday, May 12, 2018

The Powerful Influence of Mothers, May 12, 2018

To describe my mother
would be to write about a hurricane
in its perfect power.
~ Maya Angelou

Happy Mother's Day Weekend 2018!

This weekend is an opportunity to honor all mothers. I am grateful for every one of the moms and grandmothers in our larger family, whether they are still with us or have passed away. In particular I am thinking of these moms: my wife Cindy, my mother Maida and my Grandmothers Nola and Bura. Whoever the important moms are in your life, make this a special day for them.

My Mother Maida. Fortunately my mom Maida Gower Shepard is still with us. She lives in Anacortes, Washington with several family members who are helping to care for her in these last years of her life. At 93 the aging process is taking its toll, but her family is doing their best to respond to her many needs.

40 years ago this spring, my Mom and Dad decided to leave San Diego, where they had lived for over 35 years. Two years earlier, at 55 years old, Dad had retired from Civil Service work at the Naval Supply Depot on San Diego Bay. He and Mom, a spry 53 year old at the time, were nearly finished getting their 6 children to adulthood. The time seemed right, so they decided to move to Western Washington. Mom's sister Vicki had moved to Western Washington a few years earlier, and my parents had some friends who also lived in Anacortes, so they settled there. Mom still lives in the home on Wildwood Lane that she and Dad bought in the summer of 1978, the first year they were in Skagit County, Washington. Their home has served our family very well for these last 4 decades. Dad passed away in their home some 15 years ago after a battle with COPD, but Mom remains comfortable ensconced at the family estate on Wildwood Lane.

Set among tall, windblown, evergreen trees, with a circular drive usually full of cars, the house is a short walk from beautiful little Lake Erie and the mountain of the same name that looks down on it. The home is where both my grandmothers, Grandmother Gower and Grandmother Shepard, spent the last years of their lives. They too deserve to be remembered and honored on this weekend of Mother's Day.

My Grandmother Bura Davis Shepard (middle)
and my Mother Maida Gower Shepard (far right)
The first picture I am sharing today was taken in 1978 not long after Mom and Dad bought their home on Wildwood Lane where this picture was taken. My Mom Maida is on the far right with their youngest son Russell next to her. Our father Gene Shepard is just behind Russ. In the middle in the soft purple pantsuit and the carefully coiffed wig is my solemn but gentle 81 year old Grandmother Bura Davis Shepard. On the left is Jerry and Jane Clark with their youngest daughter Becky who were visiting from Lubbock, Texas.

Bura Davis Shepard (1896-1986). My Dad's Mom, Bura Davis Shepard, died in 1986 after living the last couple of years of her life in Anacortes. Originally from Spencer, Indiana, Grandmother Shepard lived in Oklahoma and then Colorado before moving to San Diego where she lived the biggest part of her life, some 40 years. There, in the middle years of the 20th century, she had the good fortune of watching her and Granddad's 12 grandchildren grow up. We grandkids were very fortunate that Grandma Shepard was actively engaged in the lives of her grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Nola Shannon Gower (1903-2004). My Mom's Mom, Nola Shannon Gower, died in 2004 also after having lived the last few years of her life at the Shepard home in Anacortes. Originally from Mountain View, Arkansas, Grandmother Gower lived in Oklahoma for 17 years before she and Grandpa moved to San Diego where they lived the largest part of their lives. Grandma Gower was also engaged in the lives of her 12 grandchildren in San Diego as they grew up. All of us grandkids have many wonderful memories of life on Lynne Street at their home in what was called East San Diego back then.

My wife Cindy and My Grandmother Nola Gower with Nathan
The second picture I am including today, taken in 1977 shows Grandma Nola Gower with my wife Cindy Harris Shepard next to her. Grandma Gower is holding our son Nathan who was just a few months old. My Grandmother, who lived in San Diego, was visiting us in Sylmar, California, where we lived at the time.

I am struck once again at how significant these women have been throughout my life. I am constantly reminded of how much I am a reflection of them: their values, their hopes, their aspirations, their spiritual orientation, their attitudes toward family, their sense of humor, their approach to life. Their influence on me has been felt my whole life and will continue to be felt as long as I live. I have a strong suspicion that all my siblings and cousins could say the same thing for themselves. For all these reasons, I am glad to honor these women on this weekend of Mother's Day. Thank God for the powerful influence for good of Mothers and Grandmothers!
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Steve Shepard