Deceased March 14, 2013
John Andrus "Jack" Shepard died peacefully at home in North Sutton NH on March 14, 2013, after a two and a half year battle against lung cancer.
Jack followed his brother (Tom – ’40) to Amherst after graduating from Newark Academy in 1944. His matriculation was interrupted for a year as he enlisted in the Marine Corps right after high school. During those summers, he discovered his passion for teaching while coaching underprivileged children to swim which then set his course for a distinguished career in elementary education.
His professional career had four stops, the first being a brief stint at the Peck School in Morristown, NJ. He spent the next 10 years at the Eaglebrook School in Deerfield MA where he served as Assistant Headmaster. He met his wife, Mary Grindley, in the summer of 1956. They married a year later and went on to raise a family of 3 boys and a girl. While at Eaglebrook, he received his Masters in Education from Harvard which led him to two accomplished headmasterships, the first at Tuxedo Park (NY) School from 1963-1980 and the second at St Mary's School in Tampa FL from 1980-1991. He retired to New London NH in 1993 and spent the last 20 years engaged in local civic activities while enjoying his close circle of family and friends.
Some of the qualities that made my Dad such a great educator include his patience, optimism and sense of humor. As a headmaster and Latin teacher, he recognized teaching talent and inspired many successful teachers by way of his example. It takes a great teacher to bring a dead language to life and my Dad did that tremendously in many ways: explaining the etymology of words from their Latin roots; using humorous examples to grasp grammatical concepts; and employing mnemonic devices to learn the arcane Latin declensions and conjugations. More than just subject mastery, my Dad taught his students how to conduct themselves with integrity, respect and confidence by developing a strong sense of community at his schools. Many of his former students fondly remembered his handshake line and some begrudgingly acknowledged his fairness as a disciplinarian. A touching testimony to his influence as an educator was the outpouring of support from the more than forty former students who braved a blizzard to pay condolences at his memorial service in March.
At his final commencement exercise at Tuxedo Park School in 1980, the TPS Board Chairman ended his remarks about Jack’s impact with the following comments: “Nullum quod tetigit non ornavit – There is nothing he touched that he did not adorn. He adorned each child in his community of students, and by doing so he adorned our community. He leaves us now to adorn another community of learning. His influence will not stop, in that community or in this.”
My Dad lived a full, wonderful life and cherished his Amherst experience. His greatness as an educator was overshadowed only by his greatness as a husband and as a father.
Rob Shepard ‘82