Reverend Ray Warren Shepard, 87, passed away peacefully from this life highly anticipating the Grandeur of Heaven, enthusiastically joined his Honeybun, Jeanmarie, on Thursday, July 27, 2023, residing his last days at Accura Healthcare in Lake City, IA.
God began his life on January 3, 1936, to Samuel Augustus and Alda (Parks) Shepard near Meadows, ID. Ray Shepard was born and raised in the mountain areas of Idaho. He grew up with his father Sam often gone to Alaska for work and his mother maintaining the farm with her parents. His childhood was spent outside, from chores daily as a little boy being the first born; to adventures with his pony ‘Dolly’, traveling near creeks and in the woods with his sister Rosalie on the Little Salmon River near Pinehurst. During his early years, the family lost a daughter/sister before the age of two. His mother married Jim McGinness and moved to Council, ID. Ray fondly remembered riding a school bus and shared stories of his Uncle Larry being the bus driver. His family grew over the years with two more sisters, and a younger brother. Later they lost this brother to an accident involving his brother and his motorcycle.
In Ray’s high school years, he helped work on mountain forest fires with some of his buddies. He graduated from Council High School, playing some years of basketball. He shared stories of his Indian motorcycle he was so proud of. He continued his schooling at Idaho State University in Ponticello, ID. Eventually Ray’s plans changed to enlist in the US Navy with hopes of being assigned to Europe. Instead, he was assigned on the aircraft carrier ‘USS Midway’, traveling to Japan, New Zealand, Easter Island and three assignments to Antarctica. He served in the National Guard of Idaho Company ‘C’ 116th Armored Calvary from 1954-1956 and then in the United States Navy from March 22, 1956 – June 1, 1962. He was honorably discharged with the rank of AT2: Aviation Electronics Technician Second Class. So many stories over those years he shared with books, photos, and memories that he could still recall up to a couple months ago.
Ray’s love story began on a Sunday, with his buddy Ken Starr both on shore leave, leaving Quonset Point Naval Base in Rhode Island to attend church in Providence, and happen to notice three ladies walking, avoiding them. Finding out their trip was delayed by an accident, causing them to miss their bus, Ray and Ken offered and safely drove the gals to Chatham. On March 25, 1961, Ray married the love of his life in the Arch Street Methodist Church in Philadelphia, PA. They lived, loved, and celebrated 59 years together.
His commitment to the ministry took him ten years to complete. He earned his BA in Math and Science at Barrington College in Rhode Island and then attended Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Massachusetts, graduating with his Pastoral Studies/Counseling. Ray touched many lives in seven churches as the minister in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Ohio, Iowa, and Michigan. His service spanned over 40 years, with 11 churches as interim minister. He also worked other jobs such as at the former IBP plant in Storm Lake, IA, in maintenance, as a truck driver for CRST in Cedar Rapids, IA, and as a RIDES driver in NW Iowa.
Ray enjoyed tinkering with tools working with his hands on vehicles, mechanical, construction, and making hope chests for all five daughters. He enjoyed hunting, playing basketball, playing board games, watching sports on television and spending family time with his wife, daughters, and over the years, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He loved giving his daughter’s playful ‘whisker rubs’, and lifting them to the ceiling with his hands. He enjoyed sharing devotions during breakfast, playing hide and seek with his daughters at 6’4, never being found, and teaching all five daughters how to drive and swim. Ray was a compassionate man and devoted husband, father, son and brother. His family and faith were his life.
Ray is survived by his daughters, Ruth Brylinksi of Ft. Myers, FL, Melody Shepard of Lake View, IA, Melinda Strief (Robert) of Lake View, IA, Julie Kitt (Kevin) of Wall Lake, IA, and Merriann Yering (Erik) of Mystic, CT; grandchildren: Joshua Strief (Daphne) of West Des Moines, IA, Sami Neville (Nathan) of Odebolt, IA, Nick Meister (girlfriend Alex Kennebeck) of Auburn, IA, Kari Strief (fiance Joe Desaulniers) of Norwalk, IA, Altoona, IA, Matt Birt (Morgan) of Wall Lake, IA, Neil Brylinski of Ft. Myers, FL, Kyle Brylinski of Portland, OR, Witte Reiter (fiance Morgan Grosely) of Wall Lake, IA, Laike Reiter of Wall Lake, IA, Christopher Conderino (fiance Grace Bultsma) of SD, Rachel Conderino of Des Moines, IA, Kaleb Kitt of Wall Lake, IA, Katie Kitt (boyfriend Caden Meyer) of Wall Lake and Newell, IA, Thomas Yering of Mystic, CT, and Jordan Yering of Mystic, CT; great-grandchildren: Jaxin, Benji, and Wyitt Neville, Aiden and Poppy Birt, Aubrie, Arianna and Adelyn Kennebeck, Elliott and Henry Strief; sisters Yvonne Johnson of Meridian, ID, and Marilyn Oakland (Dennis) of Caldwell, ID; brother-in-law Dick Johnson of Twin Falls, ID; nieces and nephews Dawna (Johnson) Benefield of Kaysville, UT, Darrin Johnson (Darla) of Twin Falls, ID, Michael Johnson (Patricia) of Medfield, MA, Jeremy Johnson (Lisa) of Boise, ID, Shawn Johnson (Michelle) of Boise, ID, Shane Johnson (Makaila) of Nampa, ID, Joe Cucchiari (Kristie) of Meridian, ID, Eddie Hart of Boise, ID, Shawn Hart (Kai) of Boise, ID; many great nieces and nephews, cousins, other extended family members and friends.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Jeanmarie Shepard; parents Samuel Augustus Shepard (Marie) and Alda Bentzen; baby sister Donna Jean Shepard; stepfather Jim McGinness; father-in-law Eugene Richards (Mary); mother-in-law Ida Richards; grandparents C.E. and Cora Parks;sister Rosalie Johnson; brother Larry McGinness; uncles Marvin Parks, Larry Parks, and Bernard Bentzen; aunts Laura Bentzen and Isabel Parks; brother-in-law Don Johnson; son-in-law Chris Conderino; niece’s husband Jim Benefield; and great nephew Laramie Johnson.