On January 14th I made a non-political post regarding the loss of actor Ricardo Montalban. This was personal to me as he was a fixture on 1980s television and the nemesis of Captain Kirk in The Wrath of Khan, my favorite movie (along with a couple of Star Wars films). I made mention of how much it sucks to watch your heroes pass away as you grow older. Two days later, it got a lot worse than that, I lost my biggest hero of all.
On the morning of January 16th, I received a call from my step-mother, Denise, that she believed my father had passed overnight and that paramedics were on their way. I jumped in the car and joined them there less than 20 minutes later to find word that, indeed, he had passed away.
Although my mother thought he was crazy to do so, my father took a tremendous leap of faith and great risk when he left his job as manager of the printing company he worked for and with his friend and colleague Robert Poorman founded Shepard & Poorman Printing Company in a 20,000 square foot building in Speedway Industrial Park across from Allison's plant on 10th Street. They hoped to do $100,000 in sales the first year and instead they did $200,000. That was 1978 and in 1983 they built and moved into new facilities in Park 100 on the Northwest side of Indianapolis where they would remain headquartered until he and his partners sold the company to a large Fortune 500 company. By then they were doing many tens of millions of dollars in sales and providing more than a few hundred jobs in Indianapolis, many of those positions held by people that would become like part of an extended family and I am better off for having grow up in their midst.
He loved the work that he did. His commitment to quality was exceeded only by his commitments to fairness and ethics. He trusted people, treated everyone with respect and, perhaps knowing the wise lesson from Benjamin Franklin, spoke ill of no one.
He took good care of his family, often at great personal sacrifice. Most recently, one of the things I enjoyed most was seeing him light up when in the presence of his grandchildren whom he loved very much. I only hope he realized how much all six of his own children loved and respected him. Our lives were better than they might otherwise have been because of the risks he took, his tremendous hard work and many sacrifices.
Below is the photo and obituary that appeared in the Indianapolis Star on Monday, January 19. Next week we'll get back to trying to save the Country from itself, in the meantime ... Thanks Dad, we'll miss you lots.
Robert Earl Shepard, 64, passed unexpectedly on Friday, January 16, 2009. Bob was born July 28, 1944 in Franklin, Kentucky to his late parents Earl Wayne and Mary Evelyn (Sherron) Shepard. Bob, the oldest of three children moved to Indiana with his family when he was in first grade. He graduated from Whiteland High School in 1962.
Upon completing his service to our country in the U. S. Army, he entered the print communications industry working for Collins Printing Company. In 1978, he co-founded what became Shepard Poorman Communications Corporation and grew it to be the largest commercial print communications company in Indiana and one of the most respected in the nation at that time.
Most recently he had returned to the industry from early retirement to join Priority Group, Inc. and his long time friend, Jay Straka, as the company’s General Manager.
Bob received numerous honors, awards and recognitions both in business and in the community. He was a long-time attendee of College Park Church in Indianapolis and a member of The Country Club of Indianapolis.
He is survived by his wife; Denise (Wilusz) Shepard, his brother; Gary (Cindy) Shepard, his sister Judy (Rick) Allen; six children; Sean (Michele), Justin (Christy), Jason, Robert Jr., Michael, Brandon; and three grandchildren; Elizabeth, Alexander and Hayden; his father and mother-in-law Edward (Wilma) Wilusz of West Chester, Ohio and brother-in-law Steve Wilusz of Tampa, Florida. He is further survived by his nephew, three nieces and many friends and colleagues. In addition to his parents he was preceded in passing by one niece.
Calling will be on Tuesday, January 20th from 4 until 9 PM at Flanner and Buchanan, Washington Park North Funeral Center, 2706 Kessler Blvd, West Drive in Indianapolis. The funeral, officiated by Pastor Don Bartemus will be held Wednesday, January 21st, 11 AM at College Park Church, 2606 West 96th Street, Indianapolis.