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July 2, 1998

Today’s installment completes the series on the Shepherd family, Noble county pioneers. This portion tells more about Jack Shepherd, whose parents made the Cherokee Strip run in 1893, and his wife, Pearl.

In the previous column we learned about Jack and Pearl’s difficult times early in their married life, including a close call when the nearby Black Bear Creek flooded in the late 1920s. Jack and Pearl purchased the Bowers homestead eight miles east of Perry on December 28, 1929. It was hot and dirty the following year, when U.S. highway 64 was paved, and the rattlesnakes in the concrete forms were abundant. But Mildred still traveled on muddy side roads with deep ruts at three miles per hour in the cold, windy school bus to the consolidated school in Sumner. Toilets there were two blocks away from the building.

Those dust bowl days of the 1930s during the Great Depression were lean times and thievery was rampant. Jack and Pearl persevered, however, farming, raising Hereford cattle, Rhode Island red chickens and a fine garden. There was always plenty to eat. Pearl preserved the vegetables and beef in the pressure cooker, and baked prize-winning light bread in an oven on a kerosene stove. What a day of celebration when the mortgage was paid off and Pearl got a Maytag washer!

Despite her laborious home tasks, Pearl made time to participate in worthwhile community activities. An excellent teacher, she taught a Sunday school class in the First Christian church at Sumner and at Morrison for 29 years. She also was an active member of the Sumner Ladies Aid.

Pearl’s real leadership abilities shone forth in her work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Extension Homemakers Association, once known as home demonstration clubs. She joined the Sumner Farm Women’s Club in 1932, one year after its inception, and served as president for 17 years and secretary for nine. If you will excuse this aside, I well remember Pearl Shepherd on her periodic trips to The Perry Daily Journal office with information about the Sumner club. She was always smiling, upbeat and helpful. We liked to see her come in through the front door.

She also was a leader in the Noble County Home Demonstration Council, serving two years as president and four years as treasurer. Pearl was a parliamentarian, reporter and member of various committees of the council. She especially enjoyed the state meetings on the campus of Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. During her 50 years of service, Pearl was recognized as an honorary member of Noble county 4-H clubs.

Jack and Pearl built a new house on the homestead in 1965. After Jack’s death on December 14, 1969, Pearl continued to enjoy her home, friends, family and flowers, until she suffered a stroke in 1992. Patient and unassuming, Pearl had a genuine love and concern for others. She was never too busy to lend a helping hand.

Jack and Pearl’s daughter, Mildred, graduated from Sumner high school in 1940. After graduating from OSU in August 1943, Mildred married a Californian, Sgt. Mario Rodriguez, in Champaign, Illinois, the following month. While he was in Europe and she was living with her parents, their daughter, Jacqueline, was born March 14, 1945, in Stillwater. Mario received his Ph.D. in Latin American history from the University of California – Berkeley in 1952. Later, Mildred continued her education at the University of Arizona in Tucson, receiving her Ph.D. in agricultural biochemistry and nutrition in 1969. After successful careers, they returned to Stillwater when Pearl had her stroke in 1992. Their daughter, Jacqueline, married Wayne Mattice in January 1965 and completed her bachelor’s degree in biology at the University of North Carolina and her master’s in education at Duke University. Wayne, a graduate of Grinnell College in Iowa and Duke, is now a professor and polymer chemist at the University of Akron (Ohio). Jacqueline teaches science at Our Lady of the Elms. Their daughter, Valerie, and her husband, John Tesmer, are post doctorals in biochemistry at the University of Texas Southwest Medical Center in Dallas.

My thanks to Dr. Mildred Rodriguez for providing this information. It is among the many Noble county family biographies you will find in the forthcoming Volume II of History of Noble County to be published later this year by the Noble County Genealogy Society.