Last month, John Shepherd’s obituary was published in The Astorian. Perhaps I wouldn’t have noticed it if it weren’t for an email from my neighbor, Bill Shaw, that read, “I would like to suggest that you do a feature on John, who recently passed away. He was an outstanding public servant in the Warrenton-Hammond community for many years.”
As I read the obituary, I knew Bill was right. This was a person with a storied life.
“John apprenticed with his father-in-law, Conrad Petersen, and worked with both Conrad and Carolyn Petersen at Warrenton Electric starting in 1952, later becoming a partner in the business. Eventually, he owned and operated Shepherd Electric in Hammond, in partnership with his son, John Jr., for 14 years, retiring from electrical contracting in 2001.
“John was a volunteer firefighter in the Warrenton and Hammond fire departments for over 30 years, serving as Hammond’s chief for 13 of those years, and assistant chief for 10. For several years, he was a member of Warrenton Chamber of Commerce, serving as president in 1958. During the Cold War years he served as the civil defense director for the town of Hammond.
“John served on the Hammond Town Council from 1962 until Warrenton annexed the city of Hammond in 1991. He was a member of the Warrenton-Hammond School District Budget Committee for 16 years.”
I wished, as I have many times in my career, that the newspaper could have done a feature story while a remarkable individual was alive.
For someone who was a 30-year town councilor and civil defense director for Hammond, John lived a tremendous amount of local history. As a local electrician for nearly 50 years, how many businesses, buildings, homes had he been a part of? What kind of stories could he tell about development? I’m sure he could have shared things that newcomers like me don’t know but would help put current events in context.
We all have stories to tell. Everyone I meet has something interesting that they’ve been a part of, a place that they’ve been or people that they’ve met. Everyone’s life could be a story.
The Astorian tells many of our local residents’ stories. In the Everyday People feature on Tuesdays, we strive to introduce you to neighbors you might not know. The Community section on Thursdays commemorates the achievements of individuals and organizations. In One Ear offers quick bits of lore. Water Under the Bridge even retells stories that have been told in the pages of the newspaper years ago.
But there are more stories to be told.
We like to tell stories about interesting local people in our pages, and we would like to do more. We’d like to do interviews and find out about remarkable histories and events and about remarkable lives.
It starts with people like my neighbor, Bill, who made a suggestion to write a feature about someone interesting. We don’t know everyone on the North Coast, but we can get to know some of them through you.
So I’d like to encourage you to send us your suggestions of stories that need to be told, people that need to be interviewed. Our aspiration is to never run out of interesting lives to profile in our pages. Help us build our list. Send your story ideas to email@example.com.
Other questions or comments about the newspaper?
Please let me know. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 541-325-4955.