In Memory of George Albert Shepp, 1915 - 2008

One of the last pictures of Dad at his 93th Birthday Dinner on April 11, 2008

George Albert "Al" Shepp

SHEPP, GEORGE ALBERT "AL", 93, passed away peacefully November 25, 2008 after a short, valiant fight against cancer. He was born in Denver, CO, on April 18, 1915, the son of James and Serena Shepp. His parents were married in the old St. James Catholic Church in 1913. He graduated from St. Joseph's Academy in 1932. On April 5, 1937, he wed Frances Rita Girouard, his childhood sweetheart and the love of his life. They were married at St. James Catholic Church where they have been lifelong members. They were happily married for 68 years when she passed away in July 2005. He lived at Westminster Towers since then where he enjoyed the various outings and activities. He is survived by their four children, Gerry of Winter Park, Carol Kalter (Howard) of Colchester VT, Mike (Peggy) of Lutz, FL and Frank (Carleen) of Mount Dora. They also had six grandchildren, Theresa Kalter Quintin, Helen Shepp Green, Michael Shepp Jr., David Shepp, Paula Kalter Gervia, and Kathy Shepp Boyd, and seven great-grandchildren, Jordan and Parker Green, William Shepp, Andrew Gervia, Jacob, Tyler and Aiden Boyd. He was predeceased by two great-grandchildren, Charles Green and Kaitlyn Boyd. He is also survived by his sister-in-law, Elma Connolly of Eustis and several nieces and a nephew. He was a lifetime Fourth Degree member of Knights of Columbus Council #2112, having joined at the age of 18. He served the KofC as Grand Knight, State Secretary and State Deputy. He traveled throughout the state of Florida as part of the Fourth Degree Installation team. Throughout the years he enjoyed playing in the softball, bowling and golf leagues with his fellow Knights. He treasured the friendships he developed through the years. In his late teens and twenties he played Diamond Ball on a traveling team. He went to work for Kissam Builders Supply Co. (now Florida Rock Industries) because of his ball playing. An accountant by trade, he spent over 58 years in the building materials industry, before retiring in 1990. He was considered the father of the Hollow Metal trade in Central Florida and was both well-known and respected throughout the industry for his integrity. He and Rita enjoyed traveling; they enjoyed cruises with the Knights to European ports and trips throughout the US. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the American Cancer Society or the charity of your choice. The family will receive friends Monday, December 1st, from 6-8PM at Carey Hand Colonial Funeral Home, 2811 Curry Ford Road, Orlando. The Funeral Mass will be held at 10AM Tuesday, December 2nd, at St. James Catholic Cathedral with a reception to follow in the Parish Center. Interment will be at Woodlawn Cemetery. CAREY HAND COLONIAL FUNERAL HOME, Orlando. 407-898-2561

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Published in the Orlando Sentinel on 11/29/2008 and 11/30/2008

Frances Rita Shepp (My Mother), 1914 - 2005

Eulogy by Gerry Shepp

I am informed by my siblings, that I am now the patriarch of the family, so as such, I am here to speak today, and to speak for them as well. We are pleased that you are here today to celebrate with us the re-union of mom and dad. While we grieve, we are also happy that he did not have to endure a long and painful suffering. And we are happy that he is reunited with mom. They were together for 68 years and her death on July 16, 2005 was very painful for him. But he continued onward never complaining. He would occasionally state that he missed her, but he did not complain. Dad carried a folded, yellowed note in his wallet—a note that he wrote to mom over 70 years ago in which he asked her to agree to marry him on a particular date in May. Obviously mom said no, one of the five times she said no before saying yes, and eventually, they were married on April 5, 1937. She was his highschool sweetheart, the love of his life. After mom’s death, he wore both her engagement and wedding ring on a silver chain around his neck. She would always be there, close to his heart. In addition to loyalty and devotion to mom, his next strongest point was, he never complained. You could often tell that he was in some pain, but when you asked him, he would say, “Oh, I’m all right” or “I’m doing okay” or “Not bad for an old man.” Even following the surgery last week, he rarely complained, but you saw the pain in his eyes or you saw him grimace or clutch his stomach and occasionally groan. He never said, “I hurt, I need something for the pain.” Never. Legally blind and deaf and suffering short term memory loss, he still continued to do as much as he could for himself. Until about two months ago, he looked forward to the weekly outings that Westminister provided for their residents—a trip to a baseball game at Disney’s Sports Complex, a trip for putt putt golf, or a trip to a beach restaurant. These trips meant a lot to him and provided a break in the day to day sameness of his life.

He was very much a traditional gentleman with strong emphasis on “gentle.” He believed in the church and even though saying the rosary is no longer a part of family visitation, he wanted that. As he became more and more frail, he still insisted on going to Sunday mass. It was part of who he was of what was important to him. During the recent and difficult years as mom’s health waned, they would watch mass on TV (and you better not contact them during that time) and they had communion brought to them every week.

Dad was devoted to the Knights of Columbus, serving in many, many positions. In 1976, dad’s closest friend, Frank Cilento, was elected State Grand Knight and dad was elected State Secretary. Good friends, they often worked as a team. I remember an evening of celebration on that occasion that would soon turn to sadness when Frank died suddenly of a heart attack. Dad became State Grand Knight, fulfilling Frank’s term. Frank and Grace Cilento were perhaps mom and dad’s closest and dearest friends, and Frank, who had a magnificent voice, sang at mom and dad’s wedding. Dad was a State Deputy and for a long time served as a member of the Fourth Degree installation team. He traveled for many, many years all around the state performing the installation service.

In the last 7 or 8 years, dad’s sight was such that he could no longer drive and he voluntarily stopped driving, or so we thought. We did learn that at least twice, he drove with mom as his copilot—once to take her for a haircut and once to get the lawn mower from the repair shop. As you can imagine, that truly scared the you-know-what out of us when we learned about it. His reasoning-—he didn't want to bother any of us! We also learned that he tied the lawn mower to the faucet in the yard and walked behind it as it wound itself closer and closer to a faucet. He used this method on several potions of the almost one acre of land that surrounded the house. Inventive and effective, but not very practical. Eventually, he did agree to a lawn service to take care of the yard. We took turns getting him about when he needed to run errands, and almost every Saturday, I would take him grocery shopping. I quickly learned a routine and could shop without a list. He had a few quirks—for example, he might remember something that he wanted that was on an aisle that we had already been down. Once, I slipped back to get the item, and was severely reprimanded for going backwards! That simply wasn’t on his schedule. He really did not like it when Publix rearranged product placement in the store! Sometimes I would suggest or recommend an item that I thought they might like, something that might be different for them and sometimes he would take a chance and purchase that item. If it was not acceptable to mom, I was informed the next week not to ever get that item again. There was one item that no matter how much I tried to get him to choose otherwise, it was always met with a stern “No.” That was ice cream, vanilla ice cream, not chocolate or strawberry or any other flavor, just vanilla. For a few years, they did indulge in Hersey’s Chocolate Syrup topping their nightly dish of ice cream, but Hersey’s must have done something wrong because suddenly the Chocolate Syrup was a no/no.

When he moved into Westminister Towers, they often had an afternoon ice cream social. If we arrived back from an errand, he made a beeline for the ice cream—vanilla, no toppings, syrup, or sprinkles. During the last few weeks, ice cream was one of the few food items we or anyone could get him to try to eat. Monday night, I visited him at ORMC (it will always be ORMC to me), I noticed that he had eaten maybe one bite of the food on his plate. There was ice cream there, but they had dared to bring him a cup of chocolate ice cream, and when I mentioned the ice cream, he gave me a look that said it all and I decided to just remain quiet.

Mom was a small package of determination and dad was the quiet one. She could accomplish much with a look, a “..wait until your father gets home” or a simple “I heard that.” When she informed him of any transgression, he spoke quietly but firmly and you really felt guilty for whatever it was you had done or not done as you should have done it. It pleases us greatly that after the past three plus years, they are once again together, once again a very special couple.

Following this service, the family invites you to join us for refreshments in the church social hall. I will advise you, and I’m sorry Dad, there won’t be ice cream.

Frances Rita Shepp (My Mother), 1914 - 2005

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