October is among my favorite times of year. The stifling humidity and triple-digit temperatures of Central Florida begrudgingly acquiesce, making way for the relieving, seasonal rains and blessed breezes. The syncopated strains of my Alma Mater’s high school band waft effortlessly to my neighborhood, and if I listen carefully, I can hear the dulcimer tones of the announcer as he regales the crowd with the play by play. Homecoming is right around the corner! Coincidentally, it’s also time for my College homecoming, too. I always look forward to the delivery of the “Season’s” magazine from my other Alma Mater, Samford University. I love the opportunity to catch up with happenings in Homewood, Alabama. I go to the alumni section first so that I can read about the lives of people I knew way back when.
This October is no different. . .the Hernando High School Royal Regiment plays to encourage the Junior Varsity football team as I open my mailbox to find the latest edition of “Season’s” magazine. Waxing nostalgic, I pour over the pages and am magically transported back to sights, sounds and smells of 800 Lakeshore Drive. I was greatly saddened to see the following story:
So while I contemplate dual homecomings at Hernando High School and Samford University, Dr. Shepherd is experiencing the ultimate homecoming, playing the celestial instruments in praise to her Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ.
Retired Samford School of the Arts professor Betty Sue Shepherd died on Thursday, Aug. 2. Shepherd taught piano at Samford for fifty years and retired in 2007. She received the university’s George Macon Memorial Award award in 2004 in recognition of her dedication to teaching. She was named Teacher of the Year by the Alabama Music Teachers Association in 2001. Shepherd’s students have had recurring success in regional and national competitions and in admission to graduate school.
A concert pianist who was organist at Vestavia Hills Baptist Church for more than 35 years, Shepherd was also the author of two publications of hymn arrangements, By Request: Favorite Hymns for Organ and Sacred Concert Stylings, for piano.
I was privileged to have studied piano under Dr. Betty Sue Shepherd, and to worship with her at Vestavia Hills Baptist Church. As a teacher, she was relentlessly challenging while managing to encourage at the same time. In worship, she was jubilant and effervescent. While I am sure that she is lovingly embraced in the heavenly chorus, I am equally sure that we who remain shall miss her terribly.