Distinguished Alumni Awards
2013 Distinguished Alumnus
Dr. Frank W. Sheppard Jr. ’39 had an outstanding career in agriculture, which has impacted the global community for more than four decades. That is just one reason he was chosen as Schreiner University’s Distinguished Alumnus.
Sheppard, who is as humble as they come, credits much of his success to his mother, who was a rural school teacher, and the value she placed on education.
“I went home one Christmas break while I was in college and told her I could work instead of going back to school,” he said. “She told me if I quit college that I would no longer be welcome in her home. I am very fortunate that I got to go on to earn my doctorate. To this day, I think my mother was the only one who read my thesis.”
Sheppard, who graduated from Tivy High School in 1937, attended Schreiner—a military institute at the time—from 1938–39 and became part of the National Guard. He worked for the buildings and grounds department for three summers to pay for his Schreiner education. Sheppard also played clarinet in the band during his days at Schreiner—and that led to some very fond memories.
“Every Sunday, we’d march into the dining hall in uniform to play,” he said. “On Sundays, we’d sponsor a Kerrville girl—that was a great honor, to be sponsored. People drove out every Sunday to the retreat just to watch the band.”
After his time at Schreiner Institute, Sheppard served in the Army during World War II and then earned his bachelor’s and taught agricultural education at Hutto High School while pursuing his master’s from Texas A&M University.
“I worked as an ag teacher because they were the ones who got paid 12 months a year,” he said with a laugh.
Upon completing his master’s degree, Sheppard applied for a teaching position with the U.S. Department of State in India. His success with the program in India led to his selection for the Ford Foundation program, “Training Trainers for International Cultures” at Cornell University, where he earned his doctorate. After attending Cornell University, he ventured to the Philippines where he developed seed and fertilizer programs that helped the country achieve rice self-sufficiency for the first time.
“We stayed in the Philippines for seven years,” he said. “I also worked at the International Rice Research Center in Bangladesh from 1978 to 88. I never thought I’d be one to travel the world, but I knew I always wanted to be a state department employee because they were always taken care of.”
In 1988, Sheppard and his late wife, Floris, retired to College Station. Sheppard, who still lives in College Station and maintains rental properties, has three children and three grandchildren in the Austin area.