Eldon Vance Sheppard

“The lonesome train whistle sounds no more.  

The click of the telegraph key has gone silent. 

The hand that guided the prolific pen is now stilled.” 

Author - Vance Sheppard

 

Eldon Vance Sheppard, 92, of Lewistown, passed away at the Central Montana Hospice House on November 25, 2016; two days after his 92nd birthday.

Vance was born Nov. 23, 1924 in Chinook, Mont., to Edgar and Marie Sheppard, but called Turner, Mont., home. He graduated from high school there in 1942 before going to work for the Great Northern Railroad as a telegrapher. He always enjoyed going back to the Big Flat.  

He enlisted in the Army in 1944, and was stationed in the European theater; he was part of a communications unit made up of railroad telegraphers.

Upon returning to the states, he resumed his job at the GNRR and met his lifetime dancing partner and true love, Joyce Marie Harvey. They were married April 1, 1948 and made their home in Harlem for 20 years before moving to Lewistown. Born from that union were Barbara Ann and James Edgar.  They brought in 60 New Years on the dance floor in 64 years of marriage. Vance and Joyce both retired from the railroad, the work they loved, in September, 1983.  

Through Vance’s life he had varied interests, passions and collections. He acquired an impressive collection of antique toys, neon signs, and western art. Everyone in town knew his house by the flying red horse (Mobil Oil pegasus) atop his garage. He would often open the garage doors and light up his neon for drivers to enjoy. He had a great fondness for cars, motorcycles, flying, dancing, writing, good company and building anything the kids or grandkids needed. He was the best friend and neighbor anyone could ask for.  

Vance had a unique sense of humor and dry wit that left some people laughing and other people dumbfounded. One of his favorite antics was when he gave his Joyce a jar of his shaved beard for Christmas. Or when his new neighbors looked out to see him wielding an ax pretending to cut down the pine tree in their yard for a Christmas tree. Another prank was the time he sat outside the movie theater in a gorilla suit when King Kong was showing. He and Joyce often won contests with their imaginative Halloween costumes; his favorite when he went as an undertaker and pushed Joyce around in a homemade coffin. Vance had an irreplaceable sense of humor and loved to make people laugh.  

He is preceded in death by his parents, Edgar and Marie Sheppard, wife Joyce Harvey Sheppard, brother Larry Sheppard, and sister Mickey James. He is survived by his daughter, Barbara Tarleton, and her children, Aaron Tarleton and Sara (Colin) Taylor, all of Thornton, Colo., his son, Jim Sheppard of Stanford and his children, Jami Sheppard of Billings, Mont. and Nikki Sheppard (Bill St. John) of Missoula.  He also leaves behind extended family and many close friends.

A memorial celebration of his life will be held on Saturday, Dec. 3rd at Celebration Community Fellowship at noon, followed by a light luncheon. Please bring stories to share.  

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