Frank Wilson Sheppard, Jr. was called Home to the Lord on Monday, August 29. He was born February 13, 1921 in Golden, Texas to rural school teachers Vonolia and Frank Sheppard. He graduated from Tivy High School and received an Associate Degree from Schreiner Institute, both in Kerrville, Texas. He joined the Texas National Guard in June 1937 and was mobilized into the Army of the United States in 1940. He served in the Pacific during WWII where he achieved the rank of Captain Field Artillery. He continued to serve in the US Army Reserves after the war and retired as Lt. Colonel.
While stationed at Ft. Rucker in Alabama, Frank met the love of his life, Floris Copeland. They were introduced by his commanding officer who was married to Floris’ twin sister, Doris. Frank and Floris married on December 3, 1943 in San Luis Obispo, California. Daughter Sallie was born in Alabama while Frank was serving in the Pacific. Following WWII, Frank attended Texas A&M University, receiving a B.S. in Agricultural Education in 1947. While serving as a Vocational Agriculture Teacher in Hutto, TX, Frank completed his M.S. in Agricultural Education also from Texas A&M in 1951. Son Frank III was born in Taylor TX during this time.
Frank then began a 40-year career in international agricultural development that took him and Floris to India, Thailand, the Philippines and Bangladesh. During his career, he helped apply systems to improve farmer education and community development, as well as availability of rural credit, advanced fertilizers, and improved seed varieties that led to the success of the Green Revolution in world food production. His first assignment was in Nagpur, India where he worked for the US State Department under the Point IV Program, helping develop curriculum and train technicians to be teachers of village level workers. Daughter Florita was born while the family lived in India. Frank’s performance in Nagpur led him to be selected for a special Ford Foundation program, “Training Trainers for International Cultures,” at Cornell University. While at Cornell he began work on his doctoral program.
Frank spent the next five years with the Texas A&M Extension Service in College Station, Texas where he was chosen to lead a pilot USDA program in community development in targeted low income counties of Texas. Frank and Floris again returned overseas in 1963 to serve in the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Mission in Bangkok, Thailand where Frank rose to serve as Assistant Director for Rural Development. In this role he helped the Thai government fashion integrated, multi-agency programs in the provinces located in Northeast Thailand and on the Lao and Cambodian borders.
After a return to Cornell University to complete the requirements for his Doctorate of Education (which he received in 1970), Frank was sent to the Philippines as the Assistant Director of the USAID mission where he worked closely with the Secretary of Agriculture to develop and implement strategies to improve the agricultural economy and systems of the country. During this period, the Philippines saw rice self-sufficiency for the first time. Frank also played a key role in a project that commercialized mango production for major exporting. Frank was presented the Gintong Ani Award by President Marcos for his contribution leading to Filipino rice-sufficiency.
While in the Philippines, Frank worked closely for the International Rice Research Institute and upon retiring from USAID, he accepted the role of Project Leader for the IRRI Bangladesh Rice Research Project. He served in that role from 1977 to 1988 assisting Bangladesh in meeting its food needs without large imports despite floods, weather cycles, and small farm size.
In 1988, Frank and Floris returned to College Station which they considered their home in the US. They were active in the First Baptist Church where Frank served as a deacon and a Sunday School director. Floris died in 1998 of ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Frank moved to Austin to be near his children in 2014.
In 2011 Frank was named an Outstanding Alumnus of the Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. In 2013 he was named a Distinguished Alumnus of the Schreiner University.
Frank W. Sheppard, Jr. is survived by: daughter Sallie Vonolia Sheppard and husband Leland Blank; son Frank Wilson Sheppard III and wife Carol; daughter Florita Indira Sheppard; granddaughter Suzanne and husband Eric Williamson; granddaughter Donna Stefanie and her husband Joshua McMahan; grandson Michael Samario; granddaughter Christina Blank; granddaughter Allison and her husband Joshua McKay; six greatgrandchildren, including Clinton James and Brooke Williamson; Grace, Benjamin and Abigail McKay; and Jaxson McMahan; and numerous nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his wife Floris and his two sisters Mary Francis Nichols and Louise Mahaffey and his son-in-law Edward James Samario.
Visitation will be at the First Baptist Church, College Station on Monday 5 Sept from 4 to 6. The funeral service will be Tuesday 6 Sept at 2 also at the First Baptist Church with interment to follow at the College Station Cemetery. Services are in the care of Callaway-Jones Funeral and Cremation Centers.
In lieu of flowers a memorial gift can be made to the Food Bank of First Baptist Church, 2300 Welsh Avenue, College Station, TX 77845.
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