George Sheppard Jr. (1934 - 2013)

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Reservations for his home going made many years ago are redeemed, confirmed and accepted. Born on March 27, 1934, in Atlanta, Ga., Mr. George Sheppard Jr., of Valparaiso, Fla., departed this life on June 27, 2013. He is now "Home" in the arms of his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. George is having a celebration with Jesus - asking Him questions he's pondered his whole life. Next, he'll be headed to see Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Mr. Sheppard was preceded in death in 2003 by his first wife of 49 years, the late Lillie Walker Sheppard. He leaves behind to celebrate his life, his loving wife of six years, Dennise Diane Sheppard. Also surviving are his children: Ruby Olivia Sheppard, and Reginald Gerard Sheppard (wife Penny); stepchildren: Christopher Roy Staples, and Teresa Ann Staples; grandchildren: Regina Georgette Sheppard, and Brandon Walker Sheppard; and great-granddaughter, Zariah Lillie Annise Sheppard. George and Dennise have an "adopted daughter," Joann Thigpen, who helped care for Mr. Sheppard throughout his illness. There are two little poodles named Schatzi andAngel who brought so much joy into their Daddy's life - they will sorely miss him.

Mr. Sheppard was known as "Pete" in his childhood. Raised in Atlanta, Ga., by his grandparents "Ma and Pa Hurley," Pete shared his childhood with two very special cousins: Annie (Moot) Burton, and Sam Monroe (wife Pat). Pete idolized Ma Hurley - no matter where he was going or how long he would be away, Ma Hurley always reminded Pete: "Take God with you, and don't forget to pray." A phrase he used even on his last day.

Brother Sheppard was honored to be a member of the Eglin Air Force Base Male Choir. These God-loving brothers' talented singing, loving and caring demeanor brought him much joy. When health began to decline, these gentlemen ensured Bro Shepp's steps were solid, sturdy and true during rehearsal on Eglin or traveling to engagements to minister to others through song. "Shepp" has a wealth of friends and "sons" he mentored from all over the United States including Al Harris, Elias Oxendine, the late Jim Bartos and Carol Jones (Lunch Bunch), Joe Matthews, Jeffrey Hayes, Orvey Cole, Dalton Singleton, the late Alford Nero and many others.

Chaplain Frank Harris, Reverend Robert Stitt and Reverend Dennis Cheeks were Brother Sheppard's spiritual counselors whom he loved dearly. Whenever he had questions, he knew he could always turn to these men of God for sound advice. Brother Sheppard always said: "Late in the midnight hour when you can't sleep and you've already counted sheep, talk to the Shepherd, he's always there, the connection is never busy and He takes all calls."

Mr. Sheppard served in the U.S. Air Force for 21 years, four months and one day as a firefighter, fire protection supervisor and fire rescue chief. After Air Force retirement, Mr. Sheppard went to work in civil service as chief inspector for the 96th Supply Squadron on Eglin Air Force Base until his retirement in 2002.

Special thanks goes out to Sister Linda Moore-James, Peggy Smith and the entire Daughters of Zion ladies choir for their gracious, spirit-filled prayers, singing and constant support to Sister Dennise throughout George's illness and also for the repast following services. The family would like to thank Emerald Coast Hospice (especially Melissa Campbell) for the extraordinary care given to Mr. Sheppard during his final days.

To the men and women of the Valparaiso Volunteer Fire Department and EMS, thank you so much for your multiple runs to our home to help with Mr. Sheppard. It truly was brothers taking care of their brothers in the firefighting family!

Mr. Sheppard specified: "I want a preached funeral with loud, lively and glorious songs sung for I've tried to live my life whereby I was an inspiration to all I met. Sing loud, be happy for I have gone on to Glory to honor the reservation I made a long time ago."

Funeral services will be held on Tuesday, July 2, 2013, with visitation beginning at 10 a.m. at the Chapel Center, Eglin AFB, Fla. Funeral services will begin at 11 a.m. in the sanctuary. Active Pall Bearers are Al Harris, Elias Oxendine, Joe Matthews, Tony Linthicome, Aquan Lee Sr., Thomas Watts and John Wall.

In lieu of flowers, please make a charitable contribution to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, P.O. Box 50, Memphis, TN 38101-9929 in the name of George Sheppard Jr.

Brackney Funeral Services in Crestview, Fla., is in charge of funeral arrangements.

Published Online in Northwest Florida Daily News on July 1, 2013
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