ELK GROVE, CALIF. — Seth Shepard, the editor-in-chief and a columnist for CONTRACTOR magazine for nearly 44 years, died July 14 at age 89.
Born Dec. 10, 1916, in Washington, D.C., he spent his early years in Winnetka, Ill., where he got an early start on his nearly 60-year-career as a journalist by operating a home basement print shop where he wrote, published, edited and printed a small-sized monthly, The Comprehensive Gossip, as a teenager. He graduated from New Trier High School in 1935.
His professional career in journalism began in 1935 as a reporter for the Capitol Times in Madison, Wis., and continued for the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago City News Bureau through 1938. From 1939 to 1942 and again from 1946 to 1949 he was a financial news reporter and copy desk writer for the Chicago Daily News.
After editing a trade magazine for the plumbingheatingcooling industry from 1949 to 1955, he spent the rest of his career as editor-in-chief and columnist for CONTRACTOR, eventually adding the position of co-publisher, which he held until his retirement in April 1984. He continued working from his home as a featured columnist and consultant for CONTRACTOR until 1993.
He served in the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II from 1942 to 1946. As a seaman, he served aboard a 67-ft. full-rigged two-masted schooner in the North Atlantic's anti-submarine fleet. He became a combat photographer on the landing craft LCI(L) 92 during an early wave of the Normandy invasion. He then served in the South Pacific aboard the LST 787, and he was part of the Iwo Jima and Okinawa invasions. He finished his military career in Japan during its early occupation. In 1944 he authored his account of the Normandy Invasion in "Invasion: The Story of the LCI(L) 92 in the Invasion of Normandy," published in the book, "Sea, Surf & Hell," in 1945.
Shepard was an Anglo Catholic member of the Episcopal Church in 10 parishes and one mission over his lifetime. He served as acolyte, sub-deacon, and lay reader in four parishes and one mission. He described himself as a news and history buff, serious music lover, free-style swimming and sailing enthusiast, ardent backyard gardener, camera bug, brick and stone devotee, optimist and pack rat.
He married Mary Mancini in April 22, 1946, in her hometown of Brooklyn, N.Y. They spent most of their married life in New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts, before following their three daughters to California in 1990, settling in Elk Grove.
He is survived by his wife, Mary Mancini Shepard; his four children, Gina Shepard of Alameda, Calif., Seth Shepard IV of Connecticut, Susan Shepard of San Francisco and Barbara Shepard of Sacramento, Calif.; four grandchildren, Ariel Shepard, Eliza Leoni, Seth Shepard V and Megan Shepard; and his sister, Jane Shepard Boyd.