David Shepherd Profile picture
Jun 18, 2018 25 tweets 14 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
Today for Father's Day, I'd like to pay tribute to my father, Ruthven Shepherd, who passed away Thursday morning w/ all of us at his side: trinityfuneralhome.ca/ruthven-rulon-… #ableg
Dad grew up in Trinidad, 4th of 10. He loved electronics & working w/ his hands. He learned to build bread boxes out of coconut oil tins & sold them to get $2.50 to buy a do-it-yourself crystal radio kit. He stole a telephone handset to craft a speaker. #ableg
He went on to vocational school and took pleasure in learning various trades (woodworking, metalworking, electrical) alongside regular classes. He was in the top 10 students in every subject. Top student in some. #ableg
(Dad was actually born Junior Rulon Ruthven Shepherd, but at technical school the paperwork listed Ruthven as his 1st name and it stuck from then on. All my cousins from Trinidad call him 'Uncle Junior') #ableg
So at 16, Dad earned an apprenticeship w/ Texaco getting hands-on experience in carpentry, machining, welding, mechanics & earning 33.5 cents/hr. Despite ranking 2nd of 40, he was denied his 1st choice of next study, instrumentation, but assigned to electrical instead. #ableg
It was there he met two young men who held a lunch-time Bible study & invited Dad to their church. That night he became a Christian & adopted the faith & community that would define & shape the rest of his life. #ableg
Dad spent 6.5 years @ Texaco doing everything from servicing tanks on oil platforms, telephone servicing, appliance repair, motor repair, general maintenance & rebuilding circuits. He even told me about winding new coils for electric motors from scratch. #ableg
At the same time, he taught himself to play guitar & harmonica, sometimes help to lead singing at his church which was the centre of his social life. He was on their Bible quiz team & went to rallies across the island. #ableg
Dad had a beautiful baritone singing voice. I have many fond memories of us sitting in the living room while he played guitar and we sang songs like 'Brown Girl in the Rain' and "Tingalayo (Run Little Donkey)": #ableg
In 1966, Dad got his journeyman's ticket, now earning $1.60/hr, began to hear about opportunities to find work in Canada. Frustrated that despite his demonstrated ability, he was being blocked from career advancement, he leapt at the possibility for more opportunity. #ableg
Dad applied, interviewed the next spring & was accepted to emigrate to Canada. In August 1967, after brief stops in NYC & at the Expo in Montreal, Dad touched down in the city where he'd spend the rest of his life - #yeg. #ableg
Dad quickly found work in construction & earned his 2nd & then 1st class journeyman's ticket as an electrician. He helped renovate the UofA Faculty Club & expand the Misericordia Hospital. #ableg
He met my mother, Annette Zylmans, through the youth group at Sharon Gospel Chapel, just south of Whyte Ave. They started dating in 1969 & married the next year. They honeymooned in Jasper - Dad's 1st time in the Rockies. #ableg
By 1979, he had 3 daughter & 1 son - I'm his 2nd oldest. Dad worked incredibly hard to support us including weeks working in camps as far away as Yellowknife when work here grew scarce. #ableg
Dad eventually decided he needed a more stable career so at 42, he enrolled at NAIT to pursue his original dream of studying instrumentation. Returning to school as a mature student was a significant challenge, but he persevered. #ableg
With his diploma in electronics engineering technology, Dad secured work maintaining & repairing equipment at the Royal Alexandra Hospital where he remained until retirement. #ableg
He was always there for me to repair broken Walkmen, vehicles, musical gear, eyeglasses - he could handle anything. He built me a heavy-duty keyboard case that I hauled around for years. #ableg
Throughout his life, Dad was utterly devoted to his Christian faith. He led Bible studies, served as a deacon & elder at various churches & could always be heard booming out hymns and praise song both from the congregation or occasionally on stage. #ableg
Dad was tireless in helping others in need - always ready to help people move, install or repair electrical systems, build anything the church needed or offer a meal and support to families new to the city. #ableg
He never lost his love of gadgets and electronics, buying our first computer (a Timex Sinclair1000) in 1982, and always looking for the next new thing. He left behind shelves of gadgets, appliances & parts. #ableg
In 1999, Dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer but after surgery & hormone therapy, enjoyed good health in remission for many years. In that time, he continued in service at each church he attended, taking particular joy in counselling young men & leading Bible studies. #able`
He was a devoted grandfather, helping raise four of his grandchildren and ensuring the other nine never ran short of teasing, dad jokes and plain old love and attention. #ableg
In early 2016, we learned that Dad's cancer had returned and begun to spread through his spine. He continued to serve in his church community for as long as he could and we had many more good days with him before it finally took it's toll last week. #ableg
We were unbelievably fortunate to be able to spend Dad's last days with him in his own home. It was as perfect & peaceful a passing as we could have asked for and we're incredibly thankful to the doctor & nurses who supported my mother in making it possible. #ableg
I'll end with this. Dad & I are very different people w/ very divergent beliefs, but I learned from him. He gave me my 1st taste of music, love of the mountains & a strong work ethic. This intro at #ableg remains a cherished memory of him:

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More from @DShepYEG

Mar 2, 2018
Incredibly disappointed to hear such ignorant rhetoric from @jkenney on harm reduction & supervised consumption sites in #yql: lethbridgeherald.com/news/lethbridg… #ableg
As noted in the article, Kenney's comments run counter to #yql law enforcement, front line workers & local gov't, all of whom support the innovative, life-saving initiative. cbc.ca/news/canada/ca… #ableg
Before moving forward, the City of Lethbridge conducted research, visiting SCS sites in Europe. Sites in #yql will include addictions counselling, harm reduction supply distribution, nursing services. #ableg
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