The Commerce Journal


May 18, 2012


COMMERCE — Dr. Kenneth Edgar Sheppard Jr. (aka Busty, Bubba, Dad, Doc, Maverick) was born Feb. 11, 1935, in the English Community near Clarksville, Red River County to Kenneth Edgar Sheppard Sr. and Ella Kathleen Storey Sheppard.

During his youth he attended Clarksville Public Schools. He was a member of the McKenzie Memorial United Methodist Church, the Boy Scouts of America, and various Clarksville High School organizations; and when he graduated in 1953, he was a member of the 49th Medical Division of the Texas National Guard.

On June 28, 1953, he married Sue Quarles, his childhood chum, also of Clarksville. They enjoyed 59 happy years of marriage. This union was blessed with three lovely daughters, Deborah Sue, Kathi Lu and Marla Jeanne. As a young man Kenneth was employed by the Duke Ayers Store in Clarksville, Denton, Mt. Pleasant and Jacksonville. Then he worked at the Firestone Store in Gilmer. He left the business world in 1959 to attend East Texas State College in Commerce. He graduated from ETSC in 1962 with a bachelor of science degree and as the valedictorian of the class of 1962.

Ken then continued his formal education at ETSC, earning a master of science degree in science education. He also attended Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, and Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Okla. He earned a doctor of education degree from Oklahoma State University in 1968.

He and his young family then returned to East Texas State College, which had by then become East Texas State University. There he served as an outstanding educator in the Earth Sciences Department for 36 years, attaining the title of full professor. During his tenure at ETSU he served under five university presidents and seven heads of the Earth Sciences Department. Ken was fiercely dedicated to teacher education. If he had had his way, what is now Texas A&M University-Commerce would have always remained East Texas State Teachers College, as it had been known in earlier years. He especially enjoyed and excelled in the supervision of student teachers, and he was active in all areas of public school education during his long career. He pioneered Earth Sciences teacher certification at East Texas State University, and he was a tireless and effective recruiter for the university and for teacher education at all levels. Because of his love, concern and influence, it became a fond tradition that all family members on both sides, both his and Sue’s, must attend “E.T.” — or else answer to “Bubba.” Both he and his wife, Sue, were the first members of either of their families to earn college degrees. Then they encouraged all their succeeding relatives to follow their examples, resulting in 21 Sheppard family members and five Quarles family members attending or graduating from ETSU, also his three daughters, two grandsons and granddaughter-in-law. The touch of his love has been far-reaching; the legacy of his life will be long lasting.

Ken was baptized into the Baptist church in 1955; he was a member of the First Baptist Church of Commerce for 35 years. At the time of his death he was a member of Cross Trails Church in Fairlie.

In addition to his wife, Sue, and his daughters, Debbie Wiley, Kathi Sheppard and Marla Elliott, Ken is survived by sons-in-law Gary Wiley and Woodrow Elliott; grandchildren Josh Gossett and wife Lisa, Justin Gossett and wife Jessica, Ethan Elliott and Leslee Elliott; great-grandchildren Jackson, Jenna, Kayla, Chase and Emma; a brother, Harold Sheppard and wife Karan; sisters Patsy Dial and Karen Carey and husband Jim; and numerous cousins, aunts, nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Kenneth and Ella Sheppard, aunts and uncles Hazel and Bal Stegall, Nat and Hazel Quarles and brother-in-law Kenney Dial.

Visitation was at 1:30 p.m., May 13, followed by a service at Cross Trails Cowboy Church, 4761 FM 1563, Commerce (Fairlie). Burial was private.

In lieu of flowers donations are requested to Cross Trails Church.

Commerce Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Visit and sign a guest book at


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