Few of us, the children of mostly blue-collar, Great Depression era parents, enrolling in Little Flower Grade School in 1948, could have imagined what wonders we would see, or what incredible experiences we would have. Many of us have had the blessings and good fortune to achieve success in business, education, professions, religious service and personal experiences beyond what our parents or grandparents could have ever dreamed or hoped for us.
One of us stands most tall in Catholic devotion, dedication and service, business success, and personal and family commitment. Bernie Shepard, Scecina Memorial High School Class of 1960, died on Feb. 17, leaving behind his wife of 51 years, three children and six grandchildren. In addition to Bernie's loving and devoted immediate family, he left hundreds of extended family members, professional, church and personal associates, his Hillcrest Country Club golf buddies, Little Flower, Scecina and Butler classmates, and many more friends and admirers. His wife Rosie, the former Rosalie McGloon, is also a graduate of Little Flower and Scecina.
At both Little Flower and Scecina, Bernie distinguished himself in the classroom, athletics and school citizenship activities. Along with being a member of the Football Team, Bernie served the Catholic Student Mission Crusade and Father Tom organizations at Scecina. As one of the original members of the Scecina Board of Directors, and Finance Committee chairman, he made a significant contribution to the Archdiocesan funding model for the Deanery high schools. Bernie's devoted time, effort and financial support, many Scecina family members would quickly say, are the reasons for the school's longevity, durability, continuity and current success. Bernie, supported by Rosie, was twice named Scecina's Man of the Year for his tireless efforts in support of the school and its programs. In this regard, he was a major contributor in financial and organizational terms to the renovation of the science lab during 2010 and 2011.
As a Butler University graduate, Bernie was a devoted Bulldog basketball fan, attending all home games, as a longtime season ticket holder. Bernie also was a generous supporter of his alma mater. He also loved Notre Dame football. Along with "Golden Domer" daughter Julie and other family and friends, Bernie attended many ND Games. Social events in the fall and winter, including the cherished Scecina Five-Year Reunions, had to be scheduled around the Notre Dame and Butler games.
It would have been very easy for Bernie to remain at the public accounting firm of Ernst & Ernst, then one the distinguished Big Eight where he worked from 1966 until 1974. He certainly would have reached the partnership status at an early point in his career. But Bernie wanted to be his own boss, and so he started his own accounting firm, Dunbar, Cook and Shepard, in 1974. Bernie and his partners built this firm into a large and successful enterprise, serving individual clients and businesses in various industries. Going out on his own took tremendous courage. At the time, Bernie and Rosie's family was growing, and the success of such a professional career path change was anything but certain. But with his usual determination, skill, intellect and good old-fashioned hard work, he realized a dream that many aspire to but few achieve. A testament to the level of success is the location of the firm’s offices. The Dunbar, Cook and Shepard officer are in the building that houses the headquarters of the Indiana CPA Society. Good going, Bernie!
Bernie's contributions and dedication to community service extended into many area, including the Eastside Sertoma Club, where he served as president. He twice was named Sertoman of the Year.
Although he dealt with less than robust health most of his adult life, Bernie never allowed illness to interfere with his life. He, Rosie, the children and grandchildren traveled extensively. Bernie attended all the family and social event. And, of course, Hillcrest Country Club had an excellent golfing member for many years. All professional requirements were met with Bernie's normal charm, wit, energy and enthusiasm, despite any health issues.
When thinking of Bernie's life, one can easily be reminded of the "Gipper's" (Notre Dame's All-American George Gipp) last discussion with Knute Rockne: “I’ve got to go, Rock. It's all right. I'm not afraid. Some time, Rock, when the team is up against it, when things are wrong and the breaks are beating the boys, ask them to go in there with all they've got and win just one for the Gipper. I don’t know where I'll be then, Rock. But I'll know about it, and I'll be happy."
We know where Bernie is, and we know what he would tell any of us who are experiencing setbacks. He would tell us to keep working toward our goals despite the odds. And he would probably tell us to help anybody we can along the way, just as he did. And, if we can continue our quest, no matter how difficult and trying, in the memory of Bernie (our Little Flower, Scecina and Butler Gipper), he will "know about it", and he will "be happy" and so proud. And just maybe some time when the team is up against it, and the breaks are going wrong, the Crusaders, the Bulldogs, or the Irish will win just one for Bernie. Rest well, old friend. We will miss you.
By: George Newhart, a Classmate, an Admirer and a Friend.