Published 3:18 pm Thursday, January 13, 2022
William Turner Sheppard was born in Wellsville, Ohio, on May 16, 1932, lived much of his life in Picayune, Mississippi, and died in San Antonio, Texas, on December 28, 2020. He was preceded in death by his wife, Martha Jean Powell Sheppard, in 2018, his brother, Arthur Sheppard, in July of this year, and his parents, Philip and Lelah Sheppard.
He is survived by his sons Raymond and Stephen (Christine), his sisters-in-law Judy (Jerry) and Pat (John), and grandchildren, Margaret, Katherine, William, and Melissa.
Bill Sheppard was born in the coal fields of southern Ohio during the Great Depression. Captain of his high school football team and the highest scoring student in his county on the Ohio college entrance test, he was admitted on merit to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, graduating in the class of 1954 and marrying Martha the following day in the Academy chapel. He served numerous tours ashore and afloat, completed a masters degree in naval architecture at the University of Michigan, and oversaw design that became the Hamilton class of high endurance coast guard cutters. He entered the US Coast Guard Reserve, retiring as the senior captain on the reserve officers’ list. He worked for many years for what became the National Data Buoy Center at Stennis Space Center, planning and designing sensor and data systems that still girdle the oceans. He became the NASA Technology Counselor for the eastern US, developing technology transfer and business incubation programs nationwide, such as standing up the Byrd National Technology Transfer Center in West Virginia and, in the 1990s, establishing training programs in Michigan community colleges to introduce automotive engineers to global positioning satellite technology.
A former Sea Scout, Bill was committed to the Boy Scouts of America, encouraging his sons as they became Eagles and chairing the troop committee of Troop 357 for over 20 years. The team of Martha and Bill led the Picayune Band Boosters to hold Band Festivals attracting musicians in the thousands to fill the Picayune stadium and fund band trips to parades and competitions. They led the PTA that restored extracurricular activities in the schools and, eventually air-conditioned them. They created the Centraplex, revived the animal shelter, and rescued hundreds for the Red Cross, among many other civic achievements.
Bill’s remains will be interred besides those of Martha, in the New Palestine Cemetery, on January 16, 2022 at 2:00pm.
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