She was a small child, so she had to be scrappy to survive. And she survived in an extraordinary way with her chin and head held high and her heart and arms open -- not only to her family, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, but to First Baptist Church and organizations in Malden, Mo., to which she belonged almost 30 years; to countless people in Southeast Missouri; and to several generations of children in the Malden School System who began their education journey on a secure footing in her first-grade class.
Mrs. Shepherd retired in 1981, and it's not unusual occasionally still to hear, "She was the best teacher I ever had," or "She was like a second mom to me." When Mrs. Shepherd believed in you or loved you, you believed in yourself. She could do that. She gave and gave, and she never quit anything. Ever. But on Sept. 2, 2007, just two weeks shy of her 90th birthday, her loving and amazing heart had given all it could give, and it stopped. She will so be missed forever by those who loved her.
With only a teaching certificate in hand, two years of college, and her spunk, Pauline set out to teach in 1937 at Craig Elementary, a two-room schoolhouse in McGuire, Mo. She was 20 years old and only a bit bigger than some of the kids in the two classrooms that were for grades one to six. For the next 10 years, she taught when she could, caught college classes when she could, and then accepted a position with the Malden School System in 1953.
She earned a bachelor of science in 1956 from Southeast Missouri State University while teaching full time in Malden. The rest, contrary to what they say, is not history, but a legacy of a lifetime. She retired in 1981 after teaching at Malden 28 years.
Mrs. Shepherd was preceded in death by her husband, W.C. "Shep" Shepherd in 1979; her parents; two brothers; and a sister.
She is survived by a sister, Lorene Guffey, 97, of Cape Girardeau; two daughters, Nancy Witvoet of Cape Girardeau, and Judy Grisamore of Flower Mound, Texas.
Also six grandchildren, Cindy Hodge of Broomfield, Colo., Shepherd Hoehn of Hixson, Tenn., Carrie Hodge of Loveland, Colo., Cherie Kubie of Omaha, Neb., Carman Camp of Memphis, Tenn., and Andrew Witvoet of Scott City; five great-grandchildren, Mikayla Hodge, Raef Kubie, Madison Camp, Brooke and Jackson Witvoet; a niece, Sue Dye; nephews Jim Barnes, Ted Guffey, Martin Vinyard, Larry, Ronald, Roland, and Bill Barnes; and great-nieces and nephews too numerous to name.
Visitation for Mrs. Shepherd will be at Landess Funeral Home Friday from noon to 2 p.m., with service immediately following.
In lieu of flowers, please send contributions to the Pauline B. Shepherd Teachers Education Scholarship, First Community Bank, Malden, Mo., 63863.