Family and friends are remembering Virgil and Carole Sheppard, and sharing their story with the community:
Virgil and Carole (White) Sheppard, longtime West Seattle and La Conner residents, both passed peacefully during this interesting year of 2020: Virgil (age 98) on February 10th and Carole (age 96) on September 5th — the day after their 78th wedding anniversary.
Both were children of the Yakima Valley. Virgil was born in Parker Heights, WA; Carole in Zillah, WA. They grew up amid fruit trees and loving families, getting to know one another in their teens before eloping to Idaho when they were 18 and 20. (By way of breaking the news, they sent a telegram to Carole’s mother, congratulating her on the arrival of a 6’3” son.)
Carole completed a year at Central Washington College, and Virgil spent a year at the University of Washington. But when WWII began he enlisted in the Army Air Corps, eventually becoming a Link Flight Training instructor in Pecos, Texas. At first Carole remained in Yakima, but she moved down to Pecos after the arrival of their first daughter, Pamela. After the war, they welcomed a second daughter, Rebecca. The young family lived in a simple garage behind Virgil’s parents’ house in Parker Heights until Virgil decided to take advantage of the GI Bill and re-enter the University of Washington to study Pharmacy.
They moved to Kirkland in 1950. Virgil completed his degree while working and supporting his family. In 1956, they purchased a drugstore at the corner of California Ave. SW and SW Admiral Way which, under new ownership, became Sheppard’s West Seattle Drug. And in 1959 they welcomed a third daughter, Megan.
For over forty years they worked together to make the store a success. Carole handled the bookkeeping, delivered prescriptions, and stocked the shelves with tasteful giftware, candles, and jewelry. Virgil (who had more of the public persona) could be found behind the pharmacy counter, in front of the store hosing down the sidewalks, drinking coffee at the Benbow, or at innumerable community meetings.
Virgil was the consummate community activist. He was proud of having won the Bowl of Hygeia award, one of the most prestigious in the pharmacy profession, given to recognize excellence in community service. He served on the Seattle Crime Prevention Advisory Commision, worked closely with the Seattle Police Department, and was known by legions of West Seattle students for his straightforward presentations in junior highs and high schools about drug use. He was instrumental in developing the statewide methadone treatment program and, in the 1970s, was one of the first to use a computer and database system designed especially for pharmacies.
In their family life, Virgil and Carole spent time boating in the San Juans and at the family cabin at Warm Beach. As befits “farm kids,” they also enjoyed working in the yard, growing produce at their Shelter Bay home and harvesting lemons and oranges from trees in their yard in East Mesa, Arizona, where they spent some of their latter years as snowbirds. Carole was a talented seamstress, a consummate cookie baker (she loved her sweets!) and appreciated good grammar and clever word play. She also loved her Mariners, and back in the day she broke her ankle leaping out of a chair when the Supersonics won the championship. Virgil was a hugger, a teller of good (and bad!) jokes, and sucker for any baby who came into view, offering a big grin, a finger wave, and an audible, “Awwww.”
Virgil and Carole are survived by daughters Pam O’Donnell (Mike) of Burlington, WA, Becky McKinnon (Barry) of Meridian, ID, and Megan Sheppard of Normandy Park, WA. Eight grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren will certainly miss Papa and Gigi/Gammy and Gabump. Carole is also survived by her sister, Lois Sidie Brown of Redmond. And both will be remembered fondly by numerous nieces and nephews. Interment: Evergreen-Washelli, with a private family gathering at a future date.
The family thanks the staff and friends at Mountain Glen Retirement Center in Mount Vernon, with special thanks to Hospice of the Northwest, to which we encourage any memorials: 227 Freeway Dr., Suite A, Mount Vernon, WA 98273.
(WSB publishes West Seattle obituaries by request, free of charge. Please email the text, and a photo if available, to firstname.lastname@example.org)