De Wayne “De” Shepherd passed away peacefully in his comfortable chair, surrounded by family in the early morning hours on Jan. 29. He fought a courageous battle over the past year, but ultimately lost his fight against cancer.
De was born in Canon City, Colorado, on Jan. 17, 1950, to Wesley and Maxine (Willford) Shepherd as the youngest of four children born to that marriage. His father later married Karen Lankford and De had five younger siblings.
De’s childhood was nomadic and his family moved around throughout Colorado, Utah and Nevada following oilfield and mining booms. They settled in Moab in 1955 during the first wave of the uranium boom. After the initial rush began to wane, De set out on his own to meet whatever challenges came his way. He took a job at Fern’s Café as a busser and dishwasher, where he earned 75 cents an hour, with a free meal for an eight-hour shift.
De’s siblings began to spread out a little further around the country as they got a little older, and De made his way to Michigan to stay with his sister and her family. It was there that De met and fell madly in love with his wife of nearly 52 years, Barbara Ann (Hundley) Shepherd. They were married in Midland, Michigan, on May 9, 1969. Together they became the proud and loving parents to DeAnn and Chad. They moved their young family back to Moab in 1976 and they raised their children and grandchildren here.
De continued to work in oil and gas and in uranium exploration until 1981, when an accident took his left arm and forced an early retirement. He had the distinguished honor of being the first passenger on a life flight from Allen Memorial (now Moab Regional Hospital) to St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction, Colorado. As he was healing, Barb worked hard, sometimes taking two jobs at a time in order to make ends meet while working tirelessly at home to help De heal and get back on his feet.
De was always fascinated with anything mechanical and the loss of his arm didn’t change that at all. If anything, he was more determined than ever to prove that he could do anything he wanted to with one hand. He and his son, Chad, began building and racing stock cars along with other members of the family and several friends. Often times they spent days and nights building, tuning and repairing several racecars so they could all race together Saturday night. De’s ability to tune or rebuild a carburetor to get the best possible performance made him the “go-to guy” among his friends. Even competitors would come to him for his expertise.
De loved hunting and hunting camp every year was an event that the entire family and several friends took part in. Truth be told, hunting camp was more about having everyone all together than it ever was about the hunt. De and Barb were always the happiest when their family and friends were together. That was even more true when the grandchildren came along! His grandchildren were a source of pure joy and De did his best to make each one of them aware of how special each of them is. He was always their number one fan and he tried to be at every game, every recital and every competition that he could.
De’s passing will leave a huge void in the lives of those he leaves behind, but we take comfort in knowing that he lived his best life and he laid a foundation upon which he built a strong and loving family. We also take comfort in knowing that he is no longer in pain and is free of his earthly struggles.
De leaves behind his wife, Barb; his daughter, DeAnn (Leonard) Cobb; and his son, Chad (Stephanie) Shepherd. He will be dearly missed by his grandchildren, who knew him affectionately as their “Poppie,” Cody Arthur of Moab, Kennedy Shepherd of St. George, Brenna Cobb of Moab, Payton Shepherd of St. George, Breckin Shepherd of Moab and great-granddaughter Maecie De Arthur, also of Moab.
Also surviving are De’s stepmother, Karen Green; his brothers, James V. (Laura) Shepherd of Moab, Cole Shepherd of Arizona, Morgan Shepherd of Texas, Corry (Crystal) Shepherd of Pennsylvania; and his sister, Calico (Scott) Hagedorn of Oklahoma. Also surviving is De’s chosen brother, Larry (Mary) Warden of California, a lifelong best friend with whom he shared a very special bond. Many nieces and nephews all over the map.
He was preceded in death by both parents, his sister, Sharon Freeman; and his brothers, Terrance Shepherd and Wesley D. Shepherd.
As per De’s wishes, cremation has taken place and a family service will take place at a later date. Condolences may be sent to the family at www.spanishvalleymortuary.com.