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Lucy Burpee Shepard Howard ’37

A picture of Lucy Shepard Howard

Lucy Burpee Shepard Howard ’37, November 10, 2010, in Portland. 

Lucy lived to be 95, and was loved and treasured for her kindness, humor, and creativity. She was youngest of five daughters born to Alice Failing Shepard and Edward Shepard, orchardist and editor of Better Fruit magazine. Following her father's untimely death when she was three, she moved with her family from Hood River, Oregon, to northwest Portland, where her mother assumed management of the Failing family household. The household then was comprised of Lucy and her sisters, including Ann W. Shepard ’23 [dean of students 1926–68], Elsie Shepard Patten ’33, and Henrietta Shepard Pflueger ’35; grandmother Olivia Burch Henderson Failing, who was born in the second covered wagon train to Oregon; and aunt Henrietta Henderson Failing, founder and first curator of the Portland Art Museum.

Lucy walked a few blocks from her home to attend the Cady School of Music Education (later Miss Catlin's School), and met her future husband, Gordon Beebe, at a neighborhood dance class. Following her first year of college at the University of Washington, she enrolled at Reed and earned a BA in history. For the next year, she worked in a doctor's office, and then she married Gordon. A son, Sandy, was born in Chicago, where the couple lived while Gordon did graduate study. After the outbreak of World War II, the family returned to Portland to be near extended family and to welcome a daughter, Leslie M. Beebe MAT ’66. Many years later, Lucy earned teaching credentials at Portland State College and taught seventh grade at Hayhurst School, and also was a librarian at Riverdale School. In 1986, she married Robert S. Howard III; they were together for 20 years. Lucy was recognized for her ability to recite hundreds and hundreds of passages, from plays, poetry, and epics to limericks and marching songs. To the end of her life, she recited lines from Chaucer, Shakespeare, and the Iliad. She wrote playful commentaries in rhyme and published three poems in her 90s. She also enjoyed a good challenge, and taught herself and others a great variety of handwork skills. Many summers were spent vacationing at the Oregon coast, but Lucy also traveled to Europe, Africa, and Asia. Survivors include her daughter and son, three grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

“The View from My Window”

How lucky I am
That the view from my window
Is an endless source of much pleasure
Both sides of the city
Are exceedingly pretty
And the view of Mt. Hood
A real treasure.

I can't complain
That we get too much rain
Because moisture can emphasize color.
Without the spring showers
We'd have far fewer flowers
And the scene would, of course
Be much duller.

—Lucy Shepard Howard ’37 (November 2008)

Appeared in Reed magazine: June 2011

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