William Smythe Shepherd Sr.

Obituary
3 entries
  • "Unfortunately, I was out of town and could not attend Mr...."
    - Chrstina Delgadillo Crawford
  • "Thank you Matt for your very kind comments, and thanks to..."
    - Bill Shepherd
  • "Smythe was a great man and there are few people that I feel..."
    - Matt Elliott
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1916 - 2015 William Smythe Shepherd, Sr., 98, of Beaumont, died Tuesday, January 6, 2015, at Harbor Hospice, Beaumont. A native and lifelong resident of Beaumont, he was born on February 1, 1916, to Gertrude Smythe Shepherd and George Harry Shepherd. Smythe is survived by his daughter, Anne Shepherd Nelson and her husband, John, of Beaumont; sons, William S. (Bill) Shepherd, Jr. and his wife, Karen of Beaumont and Dr. John Townsend Shepherd of Katy; grandsons, Martin Scott Nelson of Redondo Beach, California and Cade O'Brian Nelson of North Hollywood, California; and extended family. Young Smythe - As a child, Smythe Shepherd and his family lived just down the street from the family business on Liberty Avenue. He attended Averill Elementary, Dick Dowling Jr. High and Beaumont High Schools. Smythe then became a Texas Aggie, was a member of the Corps and lettered in swimming and water polo. He was a lifetime member of the Texas A&M Alumni Association, and received a degree from The Illinois Industrial Engineering Institute. Smythe's family - After college, Smythe Shepherd married Priscilla Townsend of Port Arthur, former Homecoming Queen of South Park Junior College - now Lamar University - and graduate of Duke University. (Having endured childhood nicknames, Smythe and Priscilla named their children Anne, Bill, and John.) After over fifty years of marriage, Priscilla passed away in 1991. In 2003, Smythe married Delores Pat Fowler, of Beaumont, who also predeceased him. Shepherd's Laundry - Smythe's grandfather, T. W. Shepherd, founded the Beaumont Steam Laundry In the 1890's. Its name was soon changed to Shepherd's Laundry and Smythe worked for the company as a child. Thus, Shepherd's became his first, last, and only employer. After both his father and older brother died, Smythe returned from college to become head of the family including his mother, younger sister, and sister-in-law with her two babies. He teamed with his beloved uncle Albert Shepherd, to operate Shepherd's, then a forty year old family business. During the 1940's, Shepherd's became a war-time essential company which served ships in local ports. Over several decades, Mr. Smythe and Mr. Albert built Shepherd's into the largest laundry and dry cleaning firm in southern Texas, with plants in Beaumont, Houston, and San Antonio. All locations were run by family members. At its largest, Shepherd's employed well over one hundred persons; throughout its history it employed thousands. As Albert Shepherd began to retire in the 1960's, Smythe and his wonderful brother-in-law, Sam Dengler, worked to transform Shepherd's into primarily a linen and uniform rental business. Smythe and Sam also bought all the other relatives' stake in Shepherds. In the mid-1980's, the then ninety year old business was sold to a larger firm operated by the Heilman family. Yet the Heilmans chose to retain the name Shepherd's and Smythe Shepherd remained with the company almost twenty-five years until he was 95 and unable to drive. The Heilmans treated Smythe as a member of their own family. Only recently, after almost one hundred and twenty years of operation, was the name Shepherd's changed. Smythe, the tireless gentleman - It is easy to describe Smythe Shepherd: A gentleman's gentleman who displayed the same grace and poise in his daily life as he did on the dance floor. Years ago his family established the Smythe Shepherd Gentleman's Scholarship at Lamar University, awarded to high school graduates displaying both high academic achievement and high moral character. It is impossible to list all the charitable, civic, professional and other organizations of which Smythe Shepherd was an officer, director, or member. Just as his father helped organize the First United Methodist Church, Smythe Shepherd helped initiate Trinity United Methodist Church. For decades, he was active in United Appeals, gathering donations for multiple charities and he assisted others. He served as president and in other offices of the Downtown Beaumont Rotary Club, became its longest active member and was named as a Paul Harris Rotary Fellow. Smythe was active and an officer of the Texas Gulf Historical Society. He was an active member of The Sons of Republic of Texas, a Knight of San Jacinto, and was honored by SRT for his lifetime achievement, along with Former President, George H.W. Bush and others. Smythe was active in the Young Men's Business League, helping to organize the South Texas State Fair. He was a long time member and officer of the Beaumont Chamber of Commerce and served as a director of both First Security National Bank and Gateway National Bank. Smythe Shepherd was also active for over fifty years in his own industry, including as member and officer of the Texas and National Laundry Associations. He served as President and was named as an Honorary Life Director of The Southwest Linen Supply Association. Smythe was also active in the National Linen Supply Association, including as chairman of its legislative action committee. He was chosen to serve as Foreman of the Federal Grand Jury for the Southern District Court, Beaumont Division. Smythe was also named by the United States Forrest Service and Bureau of Land Management to serve on a three person board which handled appeals regarding land acquisition for the Big Thicket National Preserve. But many knew Smythe Shepherd primarily for his tireless work on civic and social projects. He labored for many years to promote the Neches River Festival. Smythe served on numerous NRF committees and was instrumental in expanding water and other activities including the parade; his company provided floats each year. He was later President of NRF and was chosen as King Neches XXV. His wife served as NRF social chairman and his daughter as Queen. Until recently, Smythe Shepherd was the oldest active member of the Beaumont Country Club. He was also an officer and director of that club and twice served as its president. Smythe was given special Award of Appreciation for his service as President in spearheading the design and construction of the present clubhouse. Smythe takes time off - It is a wonder that Smythe Shepherd could have any time for recreation, yet he was an avid golfer, who accomplished a hole in one - twice - and nearly shot his age. In summer he fished and in winter he enjoyed hunting birds, especially ducks and geese, using his airboat and retrievers. Smythe amazed many by calling geese by simply yelling at them. His family and friends most memorable times were traveling to Camp Clark on the Neches River at the mouth of Village Creek. This converted houseboat, on stilts, could only be reached by boat, but was expanded with amenities to house about thirty people. There, Smythe taught the outdoors - and dozens of folks to aquaplane and water ski. Farewell to Smythe - Above is a tiny glimpse of the life of a larger-than-life man who was loved by all. It is amazing that anyone could fit so many accomplishments and activities into slightly less than ninety-nine years. Our hats are off to you Smythe Shepherd! We now pray that God will bless you and keep you and welcome you home. A gathering of Mr. Shepherd's family and friends will be from 4:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m., Friday, January 9, 2015, at Broussard's, 2000 McFaddin Avenue, Beaumont. His funeral service will be 11:00 a.m., Saturday, January 10, 2015, at Trinity United Methodist Church, 3430 Harrison Avenue, Beaumont, with a reception to follow in the Nita McKnight Parlor. Committal will be held at Broussard's Crematorium. Memorial contributions may be made to Trinity United Methodist Church, P. O. Box 5247, Beaumont, Texas 77726. Complete and updated information may be found at: broussards1889.com.

Funeral Home
Broussard's Mortuary
2000 McFaddin Street
Beaumont, TX 77701
(409) 832-1621
Published in The Beaumont Enterprise on Jan. 9, 2015
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