Delbert Wayne Shepard, passed away on Thursday, May 20, 2021 at the age of 63 in Deer Lodge, MT. Del was born March 22, 1958 in Anaconda, MT. He was the 8th child of Delbert and Leonila San Jose Shepard. Del grew up in Anaconda. He started his working life at 8 years old, delivering the Montana Standard in the West Valley. He spent his childhood playing baseball, climbing mountains, breaking windows, fishing, and raiding gardens.
Delbert, after having some small disagreements with the local law, left Anaconda and joined the U.S. Air Force in 1977, where he worked as a jet engine mechanic. He would jokingly say he “successfully defended the shores of South Dakota during the cold war”. He was honorably discharged after a few short years.
Del found a place for his love of the woods in the U.S. Forest Service. He excelled at all jobs from leading pack trains to firefighting. In the late 80’s Del was a crewmember of the Lolo Hotshots where he had great adventures and made even greater friends.
Being fed up with working for The Man, Del decided to change his path from fighting fire to fighting cardiovascular diseases. He graduated from Spokane Community College in 2002 with a degree in Non-Invasive Echo Technology. That wasn’t enough for Del; he went on to specialize in Pediatrics and Fetal Sonography at Oregon Health and Science University. He retired from Doernbecher’s Children’s Hospital in 2019 after 15 years. Del then moved to Deer Lodge to be closer to his family.
Delbert was blessed with a large and strong family. He was preceded in death by two parents Delbert and Leonila Shepard and his brother Chester. He is survived by his brothers: Bob, Steve, Mike, Jim, Marvin, Kelley, and Dean and his sisters: Laura, Susan, Carrie, Jenny, Nancy, Barbara Melisca, and Jeannine. Along with at least 50 nieces and nephews. The Shepard family was brought up in hard times and developed a strong character and a stronger sense of humor because of it.
Delbert had two children, Hank Loren and Tessa Jane Shepard. They grew up with him as their hero, mentor, and friend.
Del found the love of his life with Eileen Davis. They met in college in 2003, and their lives have spanned many adventures and many love letters. Eileen and Del shared many things, their optimism, their affinity for hiking, and helping people. Their lives together were fulfilling and intimate. They loved each other in many ways, but most of all, they were best friends till the end.
The uniqueness of his character, and his fascinating life story could not be done justice in a novel, let alone these few paragraphs. Here are some quick words and phrases from the family to describe Del; generous, kind, open-minded, adventurous, dreamer, creative, intelligent, hilarious, outdoorsman, struggling carpenter, great mechanic, avid hiker, problem-solver, heavy whipping crème connoisseur, dirty football player, loved his family.
Del’s true gift was his storytelling. His stories would captivate the room. He did this with all his stories whether with his siblings at the kitchen table, with his buddies around the campfire, or at his children’s bedtime stories. Although he is gone, his stories will keep his memory and spirit alive in the hearts of his friends and family forever. We all agree that Del was a great man to go down the river with. We all rode with him, got no complaints.
The memorial for family and friends will be held at Longfellow Finnegan Riddle Funeral Home in Anaconda on Saturday, May 29, 2021 at 2:00 p.m. Visitation will begin at 1:00 p.m.
“You can always come back, but you can’t come back all the way” - Bob Dylan
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