William Brady Shephard

William Brady Shephard of Newport, RI died on August 21, 2019.  Bill was born in Woonsocket, RI on January 10, 1955 to William Henry and Rita (Bliss) Shephard, both of whom predeceased him.  He is survived by his sister, Joanne Shephard Vincent of Narragansett, RI and her daughters, Jennifer Vincent McCooey, her husband, Edwin, and their daughter and son of Wickford, RI; Meghan Vincent Phillips, her husband, Peter, and their two sons of Stamford, CT; and by his sister, Susan Shephard, her husband, James Marchetti, of Wellesley, MA, their daughter, Jane Marchetti of New York City, and their son, James (Brad) Marchetti of Wellesley. 

Bill, the youngest of three children, was the only male in a house dominated by strong women for most of his early life; Bill’s father died when Bill was 5.  He soon learned to hold his own by playing his strong suit: his intense intellect and his extraordinarily quick wit.  He entertained at the family’s dinner table (that included his mother, sisters and his aunt, Cele Bliss Leclaire) and consistently impressed them and guests with his sophisticated, informed and often hilarious observations.  As the only Shephard son, he had the good fortune of spending several weeks of many winters in Jamaica with his second, but male dominated, family, the Joseph A. Bliss family and three out of the six “Bliss Boys.”  He also spent the majority of the summers of his formative years fishing, swimming, rafting and absorbing the benefits of a simple, natural life on East Pond in Maine, compliments of Aunt Cele’s generosity and her love of the Shephard family. 

He graduated from North Smithfield High School in North Smithfield, RI in 1973 and attended Lafayette College in Easton, PA.  He enjoyed a hiatus from education but then continued his studies at The George Washington University in Washington DC., from which he was graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1979.  He received his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center in 1983 and an L.L.M. in taxation at Boston University later in 1980’s.

Bill had a varied career. He believed that his most memorable positions over the decades were the two that were the bookends of his professional life.  The first was his position at the Republican National Committee at national headquarters in Washington, DC, where he was employed directly out of law school.  He was quite proud of his contributions during his time there.  As was the case in all areas of his life, Bill brought his integrity and intelligence to his political thinking, and his views and leanings evolved in a very nuanced and thoughtful manner over the years, most dramatically during the past several years. 

The second of his career highlights occurred during the past seven years, when he served as the office manager at TJ Brown, Inc. in Newport.  Although it was not the focal point of his responsibilities, he deepened his understanding and appreciation of fine gardening and furthered his love of the natural world. As a result, he enjoyed volunteering his time at The Newport Tree Conservancy, the mission of which is reviving Newport’s aging urban forest and protecting the city’s heritage trees and landscapes.  He developed close bonds with his colleagues at TJ Brown and considered many of them his good friends.  He often shared work stories and anecdotes with his family, and it was clear that he had found a special work environment in which his core interests and attributes thrived.

His years in Newport were among the best of his life.  He was fascinated by the contrasting attributes of the small city that embraced him. He remarked the varied tastes and lifestyles, the grittiness and the polish, the small town aura and the international flavor.  He appreciated its place in history.  He developed many close and deep friendships and enjoyed spending his time and exchanging ideas with those friends.

Bill loved his family: his cousins, his aunts and uncles, but especially his immediate family and their families.  He was a loyal, constant and loving son, brother and uncle to his nieces and nephew. He was involved in their victories and their defeats in school, in athletics and in their professional and personal lives.  He was thrilled as each of the four new babies arrived and insisted in identifying as a “grand uncle,” never a “great uncle.”  He reveled in every new photograph he received and so looked forward to each visit.

Bill also loved baseball. He loved the Red Sox, all MLB statistics (historic and current) and all actual, potential and wished-for trades. He was skilled in conversing about the subject for hours, never repeating himself. He particularly delighted in his nephew’s baseball trajectory which he followed closely through childhood, high school and college, and Bill probably lived a bit vicariously through Brad.

Visiting hours will be Wednesday, August 28 from 10 AM – 12 PM, followed immediately by a memorial service at 12 PM at O’Neill-Hayes Funeral Home, 465 Spring St., Newport.  In lieu of flowers, Bill’s family knows that he would have been honored for memorial donations to be made in his memory to The Newport Tree Conservancy, P.O. Box 863, Newport, RI  02840. 

Please join Bill’s family to honor him and celebrate his legacy on August 28.