Remembering Virgil and Carole Sheppard

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

13 Replies to "Remembering Virgil and Carole Sheppard"

  • Also John December 16, 2020 (10:20 am)

    That was a lovely read.   Their three children have good genes and should live a long life too.At 6’3″ he was tall for his generation.

  • miws December 16, 2020 (10:39 am)

    What wonderful members of Our West Seattle Community they were. Condolences to my friend Megan, and the rest of the Sheppard family… —Mike

  • Serena Irving December 16, 2020 (10:57 am)

    I have very fond memories of the pharmacy and the Sheppard’s. My mother always said how much she loved Virgil and that he was the first outside of my parents to hold me when I was born. Condolences to the family – Mr. and Mrs. Sheppard are, to us old West Seattlelites, staples of what West Seattle was!

  • Sillygoose December 16, 2020 (11:44 am)

    Although I didn’t know these lovely people I can tell by the noted involvement in our community they were pillars of what West Seattle once represented.  To the Sheppard family thank you for all that your  family has done over the years for our community.  God Bless you all

  • Alki resident December 16, 2020 (1:05 pm)

    What a hilarious telegram to Carole’s mom, very clever. An adorable couple looking at this picture, a big loss to our community that’s for sure. Rip, I’m glad they’re together again. 

  • Toymaker December 16, 2020 (2:26 pm)

    When the foundations of West Seattle are cleared and the pillars that support this area are exposed we will see 2 large ones in the center surrounded and now protected by many, many others.  The names inscribed on these 2 are VIrgil & Carole.  As an Lafayette Elementary Alum I remember walking past their store twice a day and peeking in the windows. The assemblies where Meagan’s dad would share the dangers of those times.  Reading about the two of them in the Herald. I am proud to have known you, proud to have learned from you. Godspeed the pair of you, we will see you again!

  • dsa December 16, 2020 (3:59 pm)

    I have always thought a likeness of Virgil is painted in the mural on the post office.

  • BRN December 16, 2020 (6:15 pm)

    I have fond memories of Sheppards. What a great part of West Seattle. What they gave West Seattle is beyond measure. Thank you and my best to their family.

  • Danny L. McMillin December 16, 2020 (6:58 pm)

    Back in the mid-1970s, I was playing softball in the Alki league. Our team was called Summer Trash. What fun we did have! One game, I smashed a hit into the gap in right-center. It was an easy single but I decided to stretch it into a double. I slid into second base cleats first and safe. But man did I tear up the side of my hip, Like road rash when you fall off a bike. I went into Shepherd’s drug looking for a magic potion to soothe the sore side of my thigh. Virgil came over to help me and asked me what I had done. He listened to my story, and then gave me a lecture on how to properly slide in the second on my butt. He then handed me a magic potion. And as an afterthought, he told me to go out and buy some sliding shorts. I never lost skin again sliding into second! Thanks, Mr. Sheppard.

  • Patricia Schaefer December 16, 2020 (11:58 pm)

    What a great drug store they. Virgil was so friendly. I used to go their with my mom. My parent were friends with them. Thanks for being great West Seattle neighbors!

  • Pamela O'Donnell December 17, 2020 (12:00 am)

    Thank you to everyone for your kind words about our Mom and Dad . We three daughters are so grateful that they were unaware of all the craziness of 2020. Dad passed just before Covid 19 became a part of our daily news casts and oh my, how glad we are that he missed finding out about the fate of the West Seattle Bridge! Because Mom lived seven months longer, she may have wondered why no one came to visit her and why, when I finally was allowed to see her once a week ( because she was in Hospice )I walked into her room with a mask on. “Who are you?” she asked. “I’m Pam,” I said. ” “Well I can’t see your face. Take that mask down!” I did, but she never did ask me why I and the staff were wearing them. There are certain circumstances when dementia can be a blessing.  

  • Dorie Jennings December 17, 2020 (9:07 am)

    I remember when they purchased store from Rothchilds.  It had a soda fountain.  Super couple. 

  • Carolann Hiller December 20, 2020 (1:00 am)

    Blast from the past. I went to West Seattle High with their daughters. Funny story about my schnauzer who should have been named Houdini. Escaped again. I loved a block from Sheppards. I received a call at work that they had my dog tied up behind the pharmacy. So I signed out and left work at West Seattle DSHS to rescue my dog. Virgil knew everybody. He knew where I worked and even knew my dog. Lol! West Seattle was a close knit neighborhood. It was awesome.

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