Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Remembering Two Special People, April 28, 2020

What children need most are the essentials 
that grandparents provide in abundance.
~Rudolph Giuliani

Remembering Eugene William Shepard (1921-2003). On this day 99 years ago my father Eugene Shepard was born in Beaver County, Oklahoma, the third child of William Shepard, who was from Madison County, Illinois, and Bura Davis Shepard, originally from Spencer, Indiana. Dad is remembered today by his children and those who knew and appreciated him. His impact on me and all his children cannot be overemphasized. Dad was a kind and thoughtful man, who never considered himself too highly. He was a devoted churchman of great integrity and simple faith, and loved his family untiringly. 

1994 family picture, San Diego
Gene and Maida Shepard (far right), with Nola Gower,
Gary, Cindy and Jason Shepard, and Lyndsey Aquiningoc
Just before World War II, 19 year old Eugene migrated with his parents and 3 siblings to Southern California from Southeast Colorado. In 1943, while in the Navy and stationed in Los Alamitos, he traveled when on leave to visit his family in the Hillcrest section of San Diego. On one such trip home he met Maida Gower who lived nearby. They struck up a romance and two years later he married her at the El Cajon Blvd Church of Christ where they had met during a Church social event. They gave birth to, and raised their six children during the 38 years they lived in San Diego. Gene and Maida were members of the Linda Vista Church of Christ in San Diego for many years. In 1976 he retired from his Civil Service job at the Naval Supply Depot in Point Loma. 

In the spring of 1978 Gene and Maida accepted an invitation to move to Anacortes, Washington to help a young struggling congregation. They were obviously good for the congregation, and vice versa. Some of our Shepard family have been members there ever since. Gene died in 2003 at 82 years old. Mom still lives in Anacortes in the home they purchased when they moved there 42 years ago. I am grateful everyday for my father and the values he instilled in us. 

Oldest extant picture of Leroy and Nola Gower
possibly taken on their wedding day
Stone County, Arkansas, Sept 29, 1921
Nola Shannon Gower (1903-2004). Today is also a day for remembering my Grandmother Nola Shannon Gower, who was born on this day in Mountain View, Arkansas in 1903. At just 18 years old she married neighbor boy Leroy Gower in Stone County on September 29, 1921. She and Leroy were both native Arkansans but lived for 18 years in Okemah, Oklahoma. Yet they spent the largest part of their lives in what at that time was called East San Diego, at their family home on Lynne Street where they lived starting about 1950. During their time in San Diego, they enjoyed their family, in particular their 12 grandchildren who were born between 1943 and 1962. Leroy and Nola were a strong influence on all their family. Most of their grandchildren, at one time or another over the years, lived in the welcoming Gower home on Lynne Street.

Nola was a wonderful, generous and humble human being who is fondly remembered by all who knew her. I am especially grateful for the respect and acceptance she offered me, and all her grandchildren, regardless of the life path we each chose to travel. Leroy died in 1974 while Nola went on the outlive him by 30 years. She lived the last 5 years of her life in Anacortes with her daughter Maida and family. Nola passed away in 2004 at 101 years old, and became one of the few centenarians ever in our family tree.

Family is important to all of us. On this day however, I am remembering and celebrating the lives of these two whose memories are especially important to me. I am very thankful for both their lives on this anniversary of their birthdays.
- - -
Steve Shepard
(he, him, his)

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