Meet Carlton Senior Living spotlight resident, Mary Ryan Shepherd — Mary was born on July 23, 1930 in Los Angeles, California. She and her siblings were raised as devoted Catholics. Mary’s family settled in Oakland in 1939 and her mother stayed at home while her father worked. Despite losing everything in the depression, Mary’s parents had faith and good hearts and raised their children to be giving and grateful people.
Mary’s religion has remained a priority in her life and she attends Christ the King in Pleasant Hill. After graduating high school, Mary helped her parents by getting a job at an electrical company so that she could contribute to the family. It was there that she had the opportunity to learn “Purchasing.”
Mary married Tom Shepherd in 1952-two weeks before he shipped out to Korea. After ten years of trying to create a family, the couple decided to adopt and Dan came into their lives in 1962 when he was one month old. In 1964, they decided to expand their family and adopted Shannon. Soon after, Mary discovered she was pregnant with her youngest son, Tim, who was born in November that same year. She has three grandchildren, Courtney, Daniel, and JP.
Knowing that there was something wrong with the marriage Mary turned to alcohol, but in 1974 she had enough. Mary quit drinking within one month of starting the program and has been sober for 44 years and counting.
In 1976 Mary learned that her husband was leading a double life and Tom left the home. He was invited to attend holiday dinners and to spend time with the kids. Mary, on the other hand, went to work for the Contra Costa Times Newspaper (now the East Bay Times) in Purchasing for 22 years until her retirement at 71. She felt so much love and appreciation from her time working at the newspaper that she still keeps in touch with some of her coworkers to this day. After retirement, she traveled to places like Ireland, Greece and Egypt and she feels blessed to have had the opportunity to explore the world.
At the age of 24, Mary’s son Dan passed away in a freak accident while camping. Mary was devastated by her son’s death and to keep herself occupied, she volunteered wherever there was a need, including the newly formed Monument Crisis Center in 2003. Through this unfortunate event, Mary found her passion and was delighted by giving to those in need. She finds a great sense of fulfillment in helping people and thanks her friends for helping to expedite her ideas. Mary feels that if you give people the opportunity to help, they will. Two years ago Mary was amongst those honored at a luncheon by the Soroptimist for her volunteer work.
Read more about Mary’s Soroptimist award: Honoring Outstanding Women Making a Difference
Currently, Mary continues to spread joy and happiness to all including her neighbors at Carlton Senior Living Pleasant Hill. She has even donned the nickname “Santa Mary” from the kids who know her to bring them gifts. Mary is a wonderful friend and loves sports. She wants everyone to know that when she provides happiness to others, she receives it herself. Mary’s belief is that “attitude is everything” and she is a great example of this belief.
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Written by Cookie Apodaca