Services for Sheppard are scheduled for today
A funeral service for Sheppard, 89, will be held at 11 a.m. today, Thursday, April 16, at Charlie Marshall Funeral Home in Aransas Pass. Burial will be at 2 p.m. at Royal Palm Cemetery in Port Aransas.
Sheppard was a self-made businessman although he had no more than an eighth grade education.
He described himself as a "troublemaker growing up, and the black sheep, a description of which he was quite proud," according his granddaughter, Lisa Kocian of Boston, Mass.
Known as a storyteller, one of the tales he told was of riding the bus around Savannah "just so he could take out streetlights with his slingshot."
"You're not bad unless you get caught being bad," he once said of those days.
He said local police never did figure out what happened to all those streetlights.
That brashness evolved into a confidence and sense of adventure that led him to start his own business from nothing, Kocian said.
Sheppard left home at 16 and worked as a shrimper, a dangerous way to make a living that soon claimed the life of his brother Edward. But work on the sea appealed to his risk-taking personality, and he never strayed from the Gulf Coast, living in Louisiana before he finally settled in Texas. In 1959, he started a party boat business in Aransas Pass, taking customers out on fishing trips. Around that time he designed his own electric fishing reels out of machine gun motors. His first two boats were named The Emily and The Janice, after his daughters. In 1971, he founded Fisherman's Wharf in Port Aransas, and his business grew. He added two new boats, the Wharf Cat and the Scat Cat, which took fishermen out on deep sea fishing trips in the Gulf of Mexico. He also co-owned the Jetty Boat, which ferried passengers to St. Joseph Island. In 1993, he sold Fisherman's Wharf to a group that included Bobby Grumbles, who he loved like a son and with whom he remained close until his death, Kocian said.
Sheppard was a supporter of the Port Aransas business community, advocating the promotion of tourism throughout the state. He also was a generous contributor to youth and civic causes. "He was proud of his accomplishments and said it wasn't luck; it was hard work, and maybe a little audacity. 'I used to be crazy,' he said of starting a business. But it worked," Kocian said. Sheppard also was known for his irreverent sense of humor.
"One of his greatest loves was sitting around with his family sharing jokes, stories and hours of the sort of laughter that made your eyes fill with tears and your stomach ache," Kocian said. One of his favorite greetings to women young and old was, "You being a good girl? Call me if you wanna be bad." Another great love was his ranch in Cotulla, where he went deer hunting with friends and family. He continued to work on his ranch into his 80s.
Once, while at the ranch alone, he was opening a gate when his truck rolled forward and pinned him between the gatepost and the front fender. He managed to free himself, get back in the truck and drive back to the house to call for help. Sheppard also was a skilled skeet shooter with national ranking. He won more than one Texas state championship, accumulating hundreds of trophies. He was married in 1938 to Mayo Webster Sheppard, with whom he had four children. They divorced, and in 1972 he married Barbara Luckenbach Schuster. She died in 2003. He married Arlie Mae Olson Hauff in February.
Sheppard is survived by his son William Sheppard Jr. of Houston and his daughter Janice James of Dallas; his sister, Marguerite Lake of South Carolina; his step-children Robbie Schuster of Florida, Roy Schuster of Austin, Rhonda Schuster of Austin, and Sheilla Picou of Louisiana; 10 grandchildren, including those who live or have lived in Port Aransas: Eddie Sheppard, Rebecca Wight, Tracy Sheppard, Nathan Sheppard, Debbie McQueen and Catharine Carroll; and 10 greatgrandchildren, among them Sarah Sheppard of Port Aransas and David Lemand, formerly of Port Aransas. He was preceded in death by his daughter Emily Sheppard Petty, his son Edward Sheppard, his parents, Eugene "Capital Gene" and Emily Sheppard, and his brother, Edward and sister Eleanor.