Mary Sheppard “Granny”, age 80, of Tampa, passed away Monday, Feb 21, after a brave battle with cancer. She is survived by her loving husband of 40 years, Wallace Sheppard of Tampa (who adopted her young son, David). Mary and David embraced the life of farm living, where they enjoyed raising cows, horses, goats, and chickens. She became a part time mom to Wallace’s youngest son, Keith, and was an instant best friend to her other adult stepchildren. She often said she always wanted to have a large family and live on a farm.
When her first grandchild was born she insisted we all call her “Granny” and she embraced the role of grandmother. She spent Saturday’s caring for her little grandson Chase. When kids were too sick for school she was there to pamper them back to health. And when her beloved daughter-in-law, Kim, succumbed to cancer leaving behind her 7-year-old daughter Hannah, Mary was ready as usual to make sure every need was filled. Later, after the tragic deaths of her son David and his wife Donna, she again took on the role of “mother” to raise her grandchildren Allison and Austin Sheppard, who are deeply saddened by her loss.
Also grieving are her 5 stepchildren and their spouses, Lynn Sheppard, Debra Cole (Rex), Cindy Lawrence (Dan), Jim Sheppard (Tracy) and Keith Sheppard (Cheryl), plus 10 grandchildren, and 6 great grandchildren, each one having a special bond with their “Granny”. She also remained close to her sisters, nieces and nephews and will be sorely missed.
She was born Mary Elizabeth Eccles, on August 3,1941 in Battle Creek, Michigan, to the late Paul and Zoe Eccles. She was the younger sister of Marilyn Eccles of Kalamazoo, Michigan, and Lillian Tuttle of Warne, NC, and is predeceased by her younger brother, David Eccles of Venus, TX. In her early career life, she worked as a secretary for a number of companies and later retired from Continental Can Co.
Mary loved to bring her large family together by hosting holiday parties and family gatherings. She enjoyed decorating her home for every changing season and each holiday, especially Christmas, when she always adorned 3 trees with photos of grandkids, flooded the house with lights and decorations, served endless food and often entertained her guests by playing her piano. This past Christmas she was especially happy to gather her entire family on Christmas Eve and we will all cherish the time knowing how much it meant to her.
Mary was full of the joy of life. She laughed easily and was a natural conversationalist. She loved people and that love came across when she met new friends, hence, they couldn’t help but love her too.
Services will not be held at this time; however, a “Celebration of Life” will be planned in the near future. Those who wish to honor Mary’s memory are asked to make donations to Moffitt Cancer Center.