Willie "Billie" Alberta Shepherd Roberts, 97, entered into her eternal rest on October 6, 2023.
Willie was born in Waynesboro, Va. To William Albert and Lena Mae (Thompson) Ford. She grew up in Waynesboro and often shared the story of picking and eating so many apples and cherries from her Grandparent's orchards, she would make herself sick. She grew up in a time where if you didn't work, you did not eat. Her family all lived nearby, and they would gather on certain days and the men would begin the day by butchering a hog and the ladies would be busy churning homemade butter, sauerkraut, canning fruits, canning vegetables and of course, the pies and wonderful desserts. She was always very smart and skipped 1st grade after only 2 days of attendance. The teacher said she was too smart and would do better in 2nd. She excelled in her studies throughout her youth. In 1943, she taught in Elementary school during her high school senior year as a substitute. She was 16 years old. That same year she went to work at Western Union in Baltimore, Maryland. This is where she met the love of her life, John R. Shepherd, Sr. He was a young man who grew up on a cotton plantation down in Coffeeville, Alabama. She said she thought he was a very handsome man, but he certainly did send a LOT of telegrams. Well, he must have made some quick smooth moves because she married him on Dec 11, that same year. Her husband, John, left to fight the German Nazis in WWII and times were very hard with food rations and men away overseas giving their lives to protect their loved ones that they had left back home. When the war was over, Mom was working in top secret teletype at Fort George G Meade. She said she remembers all the other ladies she worked with receiving word that their husbands were coming home. She had witnessed and run many times in the middle of the night to comfort those women. The ones who had received that dreaded knock on their doors that their loved ones had been killed in the line of duty. She told the story of the day the ship was to arrive; all her coworker ladies were adjusting their hair and applying their lipstick all day long and left early to go meet the ship. She said she lingered and stayed working until the end of the day. She said her heart hurt a little because she just did not know if or when her husband would be coming back. She had not received information one way or the other about where he was located. She finished her day and locked up the shop to leave. As she was walking out and up a sidewalk, John Shepherd jumped out from a doorway. Like to have scared her to death! He proceeded to spin her in a circle as he held her over his head. Linda Mae was born soon after and followed by Patsy. They then relocated to Alabama (Home to Daddy) and had John Jr and Angie. Then came the 12 Grand babies...and 16 great Grand babies and 9 Great-Great Grand babies. She loved and cherished every single one of them. Always referring to them many times as her blessed "string of pearls". Willie worked from 1943-1948 for the Western Union. She worked at Brooklyn Field AFB 1959-1967 Corps of Engineers from 1967-1968 Working for the United States Post office from 1968-1986 when she retired. She will be greatly missed by everyone that ever had the chance of knowing and loving her.
Willie is survived by her 4 beautiful children: Linda Shepherd Lagrave Conner, Patricia Shepherd Beck Powers (Ronald), John Roland Shepherd Jr. (Sandy), and Angela Shepherd Givens Frye (Steve). Twelve grandchildren, Fifteen Great Grandchildren and Nine great-great grandchildren.
She is preceded in death by her husband, John Roland Shepherd, Sr; her father and mother, William Albert Ford, Lena Mae (Thompson) Ford; brother, Sidney Theodore Thompson of Baltimore, Maryland; sisters, Louise (Thompson) Aquilla of Baltimore, Maryland, sister Charlene Ford Wells of Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
Funeral services will be held on Saturday October 14, 2023, at 10:00 am at Mobile Memorial Gardens Funeral Home. Her family will receive friends Friday October 13, 2023, at Mobile Memorial Gardens Funeral Home from 5:00pm until 8:00pm.
The family would like to thank Bro. Randy Johnson for officiating over the service and to Pastor Ryan Epps from Hope Valley Bible Church (Mrs. Billie's Huntsville Church) for praying for our Mom's final prayer with and over her.
The family would like to invite all friends to attend a lunch in Billie's honor at First Evangelical Methodist Church at 11329 Padgett Switch Road, Irvington, AL 36544.