David Shepard recently retired from Saint Augustine’s University after working here for 51 years — 48 full-time and three part-time. But, Shepard’s time at the University began long before his first day of work.
Shepard was born on campus Dec. 1, 1938, at St. Agnes Hospital. And like his father, Shepard also grew up on campus. In fact, many of Shepard’s immediate family members spent time living and working on the Saint Augustine’s University campus.
It all began with his grandfather, Arthur Shepard, who worked for the University in several capacities. He kept guard as a night watchman, he fired up the boilers and kept heat in the buildings, and, as a farmer, he raised food and milked cows on campus. The dairy he helped operate was where the gravel parking lot is now behind the Martin Luther King Building.
The Shepard family lived on campus near Boyer Hall. The well they used for water is still there on the hill.
Before coming to St. Aug, Arthur Shepard lived in Asheville. The man he worked for there helped him get a job at the University.
“My granddaddy loved the University and the people that worked here,” Shepard said. “He raised his children here on campus and in the surrounding community, and all of them were in love with the University.”
Shepard’s father, Reuben, worked in what is now the Hermitage Building. Back when Reuben Shepard worked at the University, the building was the carpentry shop where he built furniture.
“When my father worked here, I loved coming back and forth here,” Shepard said. “I was excited to come here and work here as well.” In addition to his grandfather and father working at the University, Shepard’s uncle, and four of his siblings also worked here.
Shepard worked in Physical Plant, helping tend to the campus grounds and buildings. But, he also drove a bus for the University for 21 years. Throughout his time at the University, Shepard said he’s most enjoyed being able to help make university life a little easier for the students he met along the way.
“Some of them had problems, and they liked to talk to me,” Shepard said. “A lot of the time, I had experienced some things they had been through. I was able to help them. A lot of students come back now and tell me how much I helped them.”
Shepard’s philosophy is that it “doesn’t hurt to speak or to smile, or to let someone know you care.” Many people on campus will recall his familiar greeting — “Hello young lady” or “Hello young man.”
Now that Shepard’s working days at the University are done, he’s looking forward to enjoying retirement with his family, which includes nine children, 23 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. “For 48 years, I didn’t spend a lot of time with my family,” Shepard said. “I plan to visit with them and show them love.”
President Dianne Boardley Suber said Shepard left a mark “that says you were here, you gave, that you truly left it better than you found it.” “It’ll be different when you aren’t here,” Suber said. “It’ll be like a piece of history walked away.”
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