Thomas R. Shepherd, who with his wife, the Reverend Nancy Shepherd, was the founding benefactor and longtime supporter for the Shepherd Poverty Program at Washington and Lee University and key supporter and nurturer in initiating the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty in 2011, died on Saturday, March 19. Tom had been suffering from a blood disorder which developed into aggressive leukemia, the immediate cause of his death. Tom was 86.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, April 2, 2:00 pm, at the Church of the Good Shepherd, Acton, Massachusetts.
Tom will be missed as an entrepreneur for compassion, unity among diverse peoples, and social justice. He will also be missed as a fun-loving, caring, and humble friend to many.
The Shepherd family requests that in lieu of flowers, please send gifts to Trinity Chapel, 188 Center Rd., Shirley, MA 01464 or the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty, c/o Harlan Beckley, 312 Newcomb Hall, Washington and Lee University, Lexington, VA 24450, or via PayPal.
- My relationship to Tom Shepherd has been transformative for my professional career, for Washington and Lee and its faculty and students, and for poverty studies in undergraduate and professional education. We are committed to advancing his legacy for higher education and for more compassion and informed leadership among many citizens to diminish poverty and expand opportunities. Harlan Beckley, Executive Director of SHECP and former director of the Shepherd Program at Washington and Lee University.
- Tom’s deep commitment to educating students about poverty was such an integral part of who he was, we all learned something each time we spoke with him. Tom’s gift of compassion is a legacy he shared with us, teaching us all to advocate for those in need. We will miss Tom’s guidance. Peggy Finucane, John Carroll University
- Tom and Nancy Shepherd have been instrumental to launching the Shepherd Consortium, and I have been proud to share in the leadership of this effort that bears their name. Tom lent us his passion for poverty studies, his vision for the transformation of higher education, his admirable humility, his sincere friendship, and his wonderful sense of humor. Tom’s character (in all senses of the word) was his greatest gift to us, and we do well to emulate that character in the work we do as SHECP. James Calvin Davis, Middlebury College
- I am deeply saddened by the passing of a great mentor and friend. Tom’s energy was infectious and his optimism remains an inspiration to everyone in our program. I like to think our program bears the Shepherd name, first and foremost, because Tom and Nancy have embodied our program’s commitment to the recognition and promotion of the well-being and dignity of all people. He is already missed. Howard Pickett, Washington and Lee University
- He was the rare kind man that felt genuine concern for others. I actually have a picture of one of our interns, Richard Cooks, when he was a visitor at the Shepherds. Tom must have taken the photo as his wife is with the interns. Students were always amazed at his generosity and willingness to share his home with them. He will be missed by many. Katrina Rivers Thompson, Berea College
- Tom Shepherd was a gentle giant. The impact of he and Nancy’s work in advancing poverty studies has shifted the ground under so many students’ feet and the impact is deep and broad. Tom was a visionary, mentor, friend, generous & creative soul, and remarkable dancer. I am a better person for having him in my life. Francile Elrod, Washington and Lee University
- Mr. Shepherd lived his name and showed each of us including more than 1,000 Shepherd Interns how to foster the beloved community. Amy DeHart, SHECP Coordinator of Programming.
- Tom had his priorities right—family, laughter, love, music and dancing—and a deep and abiding commitment to spreading understanding, both learned and experienced, of the incredible challenges of poverty. His leadership in trying to engage more people in these issues and in exploring how best to address the challenges was visionary. His huge smile and vitality with remain with me, always. Let’s do our best to continue his legacy. Tiffany Nourse Sargent, Middlebury College
Here is a link to the announcement of Tom’s passing by Washington and Lee University.
Obituary from the Boston Globe.
Read tribute celebrating the life of Tom Shepherd as delivered by Harlan Beckley at Tom’s Memorial Service on April 2.