Jesus welcomed home our beloved Dad on November 2, 2022 at the age of 97. He was born on September 9, 1925 in Glasgow, Montana. His mother, Lucinda Dargatz Shepard, was the youngest child of Polish immigrants. She met Dad’s father, Hugh Angus Shepard, while both were children growing up in Sauk County, Wisconsin. From his mother he received the gift of his Catholic faith. His father was a direct descendent of John Alden and Priscilla Mullins, who arrived on this continent on the Mayflower in 1620.
In 1929, his parents sold their homestead in Larslan in eastern Montana and traveled to western Montana, having first survived Dad’s attempt as a toddler to drive their Model A Ford! They purchased land near Ronan, where Dad continued his escapades. He always described the Mission Valley in the 1930s as a great place to grow up, even though the bunkhouse where the older boys slept was “darn cold” in the winter. Rural electrification of the family’s farmhouse did not occur until after he enlisted in the Navy for service in World War Two. The gunboat he served on was first sent to Hawaii and then to the South Seas. Luckily, he saw no serious action.
When Dad mustered out of the Navy in 1946, he returned to the Mission Valley, but soon moved to Spokane where he lived with his sister Lillian who was attending Sacred Heart School of Nursing. Lillian introduced him to her classmate, Trudy Stein. They married on August 28, 1950. Dad and Mom formed a great partnership. Dad said they made all major decisions as a team, which is probably why their children saw very little disagreement between them. Dad credited Mom as the one who made sure they did well in school. All of them completed college, and several went on to complete post-graduate work.
Dad referred to the 1950s and the ensuing years as the happiest time of his life. He was always engaging in life to the fullest – gardening, rock hunting, making jewelry out of rocks from his collection, photography, hiking, running, and, as a true example of his generation, “making do” when need be, such as the time he switched engines out of the truck he damaged when getting home after Mount St. Helens blew up in 1980 and replaced it with one that was not damaged. Many of these activities he shared with his daughters.
Mom died too soon in 1985, leaving him with six daughters, the youngest of whom was 21 years old. Dad took his role as the surviving parent to heart, and all of them continued to enjoy a close relationship with him.
Dad retired in 1987 from his longtime employment at the Inland Empire Paper Mill, which had provided him a secure and well-paid job while he and Mom raised their children. After Dad retired, he met Sonia Garcia, and they married on May 5, 1988. They shared a love of travel and over the next 15 years they visited Europe and Australia, and they spent their winters near the Salton Sea in southern California. During this time, Sonia generously shared him with his children, with whom he traveled to Egypt and to Florence, Italy. He enjoyed many years of good health, and he even climbed the 463 steps inside the dome of the cathedral in Florence in 2001 at age 76!
After 25 years of marriage, Sonia died in 2013. He missed her terribly, but he survived another 9 years, most of which he lived in good health with his daughter Tina. He suffered the onset of frontal lobe dementia during the pandemic. Tina provided him with loving care until his death at her home.
Dad is survived by his grateful daughters and four sons-in-law – Monica and Paul Wasson, Priscilla and Drew Zimmerman, Margo and Dan Morse, Tina Shepard, Irene Wight, and Melanie and Gary Empkey. He leaves ten adult grandchildren and their spouses – Andrea and Matty McIntyre, Tom and Annie Wasson, Michael and Lacey Zimmerman, Jessie and Kurt Fellrath, Christina and Alex Lambert, Stuart Morse, Dustin and Minh Anh Wight, Glenn Wight, Zachary and Katie Empkey, and Aaron Empkey. He was preceded in death by his grandson Ben Wasson in 2009. He leaves eight great-grandchildren – Julia, Olivia, and Madeline McIntyre, Kylee and Fox Zimmerman, May Wight, and Reuben and Cora Lambert. Dad is survived by two siblings – Ted Shepard and Priscilla Rubel, and numerous nieces and nephews. He is also survived by his step children – Ed Garcia, Evelyn Lawry, Lillie Mechana, Larry Garcia, and Arthur Garcia, and their children.
Dad was preceded in death by several of his sisters and brothers – Cecelia Halseth, Hugh (Bud) Shepard, Lillian Lonam, Don Shepard, and Shirley Morigeau, and by Trudy’s brothers and sisters – June Stein, Trudy’s twin brother Gus Stein, Al Stein, Chuck Stein, Dena Hunter, and Hubert (Hip) Stein.
Dad’s Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, November 29, 2022 at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church at 4521 N. Arden Rd., Otis Orchards, WA, 99027. He will be buried next to his wife Trudy at the cemetery at St. Joseph’s Trentwood.
Finally, we thank Horizon Hospice, Generations Senior Care and Lilia Ko, who assisted dad in his home in the last year of his life. And, most of our gratitude goes to our sister Tina for the selfless care she gave Dad for many years.
Please share your memories of Dad on his Tribute Wall.