Fred Shepard

Fred Shepard

July 17, 1940 – December 17, 2013


ShepardKind, unassuming, loyal, and witty, Fred Shepard made a difference in this world. From the farm in Flint Ridge to the halls of Heritage House, Fred’s endearing charm made a lasting impression.  Not only did he brighten our days and touch our hearts, he inspired us to become better people. His steadfast devotion to his family and his unwavering commitment to doing the right thing made him both a role model and a moral compass; his legacy will be carried on as we all strive to treat others with the unconditional acceptance and kindness that he demonstrated every day of his life.

Born in 1940 and raised on an Ohio farm, Little Freddie was a horse-riding, hay-baling country boy.  From his beloved mother, Harriet, Fred learned how to create something out of nothing; he could make a meal of leftovers, a toy from wood scraps, and a game out of anything.  From his father, Henry, he developed the work ethic and quiet humbleness that became a hallmark of his professional life.  From his clan of siblings (Henry, Billy Joe, George, Julianne, Jim, Debbie, and Tom), Fred was given countless opportunities to hone his skills as a budding class clown and develop his unique style of impish charm. 

That style served him well, most famously when he charmed Wilma Warner in order to win the heart of her daughter, Shirley.  Fred was smitten with Shirley Warner from the start, and he continued to cherish and adore her all the days of his life. Their beautiful marriage of fifty-plus years, based on loyalty, respect, and friendship inspired generations. Fred and Shirley were the perfect combination, alike in the ways that mattered and different in the ways that gave their union a sense of balance and completeness. Together, they became an inseparable force, generously extending kindness, support, and understanding to family and friends from near and far. Witnessing the two of them together, especially in recent times, provided an example of true love and steadfast devotion to everyone they encountered. 

Back when Fred and Shirley married in 1962, Fred joined Ronald, Howard, and Kenneth as honorary member of the Warner band of brothers. With Bev and Dennis, the two youngest Warners, he assumed a role that seemed more like that of a favorite uncle; the two of them provided Fred with a chance to begin practicing his parenting skills.

Practice was made perfect in 1963 when Fred and Shirley welcomed their first child, daughter Tracey.  Five years later, Fred’s family was complete when son Brian was born.  A doting father to his adoring children, Fred found his true calling as a family man.  Just as his mother had labeled him the perfect child, Tracey and Brian regarded him as the perfect father.   A champion for his children, Fred cheered them on and encouraged their dreams.  He was their fiercest defender and most steadfast supporter; his unconditional love gave them a port where they knew they could weather any storm. 

With open arms, Fred welcomed son-in-law Kevin and daughter-in-law Marci into the family.  Every bit as proud of them as he was of his own children, Fred became the cherished patriarch of his extended family.  When that family was blessed with the births of Tyson and Colton, Fred enthusiastically embraced the role he was born to play: Grandpa.  Nothing gave him greater joy than spending time with his two grandsons.  His active involvement in their lives forged a bond that both boys will forever treasure.  He took tremendous pride in watching his two little buddies grow into fine young men. 

Fred‘s loyalty to his family was mirrored in his loyalty to State Farm Insurance, where he launched his career as entry level mail clerk in 1960. With his work ethic, common sense, and remarkable ability to talk to anyone, it wasn’t long until he was promoted to a position in underwriting.  In the ensuing years, he progressed through the ranks of underwriting and supervision, earning his CPCU designation along the way.  After his promotion and transfer to Salem, Oregon in 1976, Fred was repeatedly encouraged to represent the company as an agent.  At first reluctant, he busied himself with other professional pursuits, such as teaching insurance classes at the local community college. Fred eventually joined the agency force in Oak Harbor, Washington in 1983.  There, Fred truly embodied the “good neighbor” philosophy.  Working alongside his ever-efficient and always-organized wife, Shirley, Fred was an agent who not only made sure your claim got paid, but also lent you his car and twenty dollars for gas.  Fred and Shirley grew their business into a community resource, supporting local charities, doling out advice, and taking more than a few folks under their wing. The impact Fred made on his community was evident by the outpouring of warmth and gratitude his policyholders showed when he retired in 2009.

In between the time he devoted to career and family, Fred occasionally found a spare moment to pursue other interests.  He was a member of the Masons and the Lion’s Club.  He was in Indian Guide with Brian, a Rainbow dad with Tracey, and a volunteer at the Whidbey Playhouse with Shirley.  He had a passion for flying airplanes and a legendary love for washing his cars.

He was also legendary for his extensive knowledge of trivial facts.  Fred liked to say he knew everything about nothing, a trait that made him the official arbiter of many a trivial pursuit.  He was equally well-known for his sense of humor.  As the lord of limericks, the prince of puns, and the king of one-liners, Fred was relentless.  He would pounce when he detected even the slightest smile, get that twinkle in his eyes, and continue his campaign of comedy until he coaxed out that first laugh.  “Don’t encourage him” became a phrase Shirley was frequently compelled to utter to their children and grandchildren, nieces and nephews, waiters and waitresses, doctors and nurses, and anyone else with whom he might interact.  There was no stopping him once he was on a roll.

So prolific was his way with words that when family and friends referred to a “Fredism,” everyone knew exactly what they meant.  Some of the most infamous included his words of encouragement (Somedays you get the bear, and somedays the bear gets you), his assessment of a situation (It’s not eatin’ any hay), his words of advice (The answer’s always no until you ask). Of course, there were sage observations, such as “A man with a pocket knife is worth 25 more cents an hour.” Perhaps the most infamous of them all was the-ever popular “Let ‘er dance!”

As he traveled down the road of life, Fred did indeed “let ‘er dance.” He danced his happy little jig Shepard2down the road of life, raising the spirits of everyone he encountered along the way.  If the measure of a man’s life is how he treated others, or the number of times he made people smile, or how much he was loved, then Fred Shepard’s life was an immeasurable success. 

A special thank you to the incredible staff at Heritage House Memory Care and Saint Elizabeth’s Hospital.  The kindness and compassion you showered on this remarkable man will forever be appreciated by his family.  A family service was held on Fred’s honor on December 20.  In lieu of flowers, please honor Fred by giving to your favorite children’s charity.

2 Responses to “Fred Shepard”

  • Helen Woogie says:

    Wow, I am at a loss for words. This, without a doubt, is the most beautiful tribute to a person, man or woman, I have ever read. I only wish I had known him better. Shirley, you were the perfect match and God picked him out for you. Prayers for all of you. I know you will miss him but you know to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. He and Davey are with the rest of our family. Love, Helen, Woogie

  • Lisa Eckroate says:

    Shirley, Tracey, Brian and Family, Dad called last week with the sad news. I know there is nothing I could ever say to make this loss easier, but please know that Freddy and all of you are thought of often, and always with love. The world is a lesser place without him.


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