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SHEPHARD, MARIE NORMA It is hard to know where to begin in describing the amazing life lived by Marie Shephard. She was a dancer on Broadway, an author, a professional clown, a gardener and earthworm farmer, PTA president, dog groomer, renowned baker, had a Montessori preschool, and was a trailblazer for women in the workplace and the military. She was also a wife of 47 years, mother and grandmother. Independent to the end, she lived by herself in her own home until her death on February 11, at the age of 97. While Marie loved her adopted California, she was born in Buffalo, New York in 1915. Marie graduated from Bennett High School in Buffalo in 1933 as the Great Depression gripped the country. Undaunted, she made her way to New York City and was a dancer in Broadway shows for a number of years. In 1940, as the country began gearing up for war, Marie returned to Buffalo and was one of the first women to work on an assembly line in the U.S., at the Bell aircraft plant in Wheatfield, NY. Following the attack at Pearl Harbor, Marie enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard, serving as a radio specialist in the nation's coastal defense network. After the war, Marie worked in the insurance industry until her marriage to Charlie Shephard and the arrival of her two children, Jody and Daniel. During her children's school years, Marie led a Camp Fire Girl troupe for 12 years, and served as PTA President for two years at Montezuma School in San Diego. Marie was also a proud daughter of Scotland, and participated in Scottish cultural activities, including San Diego's highland dancing community. With her kids off to Harvard and other schools pursuing graduate degrees, Marie finally had the chance to realize a life-long dream, which was to write children's stories and books for teens. Many of her stories were published in Highlights and other children's magazines; her biographies of Maria Montessori and Charles Dickens were highly acclaimed and can be found in many school libraries. Even though Marie became vision impaired due to macular degeneration she was able to continue her writing and remain independent by learning to cope with her vision loss at the San Diego Center for the Blind. Throughout her life, Marie remained active physically, dancing with the "Rockerettes" and "Toe-Tappers" into her late 80s, and walking a mile a day with her little dog Riley until just a few months before her death. As for her personality, while it is somewhat expected to say nice things about the departed, in Marie's case, there is no need to embellish. She was unfailingly kind, thoughtful and warm-hearted. It is no exaggeration to say that everyone liked Marie, and she liked them. Marie is survived by her two children, Jody (Barry) and Daniel (Kazue), her stepson Charles (Shirley), and her seven grandchildren, Chuck, Pam, Karen, Cameron, Caitlin, Alethea and Amelia. A party celebrating Marie's life will be held at the Vista Royal Lodge Estates clubhouse, 1010 E. Bobier Dr. Vista, on March 17, at 2:00 p.m. All are welcome. In lieu of flowers donations to the San Diego Center for the Blind, 5922 El Cajon Blvd., San Diego, Ca 92115 would be appreciated.

Published in The San Diego Union Tribune on Feb. 24, 2013
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