- 93 years old
- Date of birth: May 31, 1922
- Place of birth:
Oklahoma, United States
- Date of passing: Jun 28, 2015
- Place of passing:
Texas, United States
|In Loving Memory|
Dear Family and Friends of Jewell Dean,
Let's take a moment to remember Jewell with stories and memories from her life.
An online memorial is hardly perfect, but in this digital age with so many far-flung loved ones, this is one way for us to remember her now and in the future.
"In Remembrance of Jewell Dean Watts Shepard
Camp Ranch Cemetery, Brown County Texas
Memorial Service and VA Gravestone Placement
To Be Held One December 29, 2016
Jewell Dean Watts (Julie) was born in Chattanooga, Oklahoma on May 31, 1922 to Frank and Ora Watts. Jewell grew up on her family farm, helping her siblings, Jim, Louise, Ruth, Gladys, and Cleta pick vegetables, tend to the livestock, and do the daily chores. There, she learned from her mother how to do things “from scratch”: sewing, quilting, needlework, cooking, baking, pickling, canning, butter churning, and ice cream making. Her father taught her gardening and animal husbandry. From him she got her wry sense of humor, and her twinkling blue eyes. She blossomed into young adulthood at the family farm at the base of the Wichita Mountains, and her very favorite thing was to run from rock-to-rock as fast she could in the mountain range until she came to her favorite heart-shaped rock, where she would sunbathe and contemplate her future.
Jewell was a natural-born athlete. Jewell came from a large and very musical family and many a Saturday night was spent on the porch where aunts, uncles, and cousins would play stringed instruments and sing. Unfortunately, the musical gene skipped her, and she admittedly “could not carry a tune in a bucket.” This never stopped her having joy in singing, and she knew the lyrics to practically everything.
Like so many others born in the 20s and raised in the 30s, when World War II was thundering in the distance, Jewell pulled up stakes and moved to the big city to seek her fortune. She became a secretary at the Department of Navy in DC. There, she played semi-pro ladies softball, and paid for her own flying lessons. It was while she was working there, that she met her future husband, Eugene N. Shepard, (Gene), while on a blind date.
Like many couples during the Great War, they were soon married. It was July 17, 1942 and Jewell found herself on a train to Fresno, California to be wed. Gene and Jewell began their marriage on the seventeenth of July that year, and continued for sixty years until Gene’s passing in August of 2002. Gene went on to serve as a Captain in the Army Corps of Engineers, and she served her country, as well. Gene went off to Paris and London to build air bases and to rebuild bridges which the Axis powers had bombed. After Julie’s flying lessons, she joined the WASPS, the lady pilots who flew for the United States Army. She was a great beauty, and the armed services used some of her photos for publicity purposes in World War II. The family has many photos of Jewell from when she served as an aviatrix for the WASPS’ and they are very proud of her service to her country. Jewell’s name is on the memorial statue at the WASP museum at Avenger field in Sweetwater, Texas.
After the war, Gene retrieved Jewell from his parents’ home in Amarillo, Texas, and the young couple finished their honeymoon, living on a yacht the Bid-a-wee (Archaic Old English/Scottish for “Stay a While”) in St. Petersburg, Florida, while Gene worked as a draftsman. In the mid-forties, they moved to Austin, and both attended the University of Texas, Gene as an engineering student, and Julie as a home economics major. Julie learned how to be the consummate homemaker at U.T., including gourmet cooking, tailored suit making, upholstery, and the science behind baking. Gene graduated from U.T., and soon, the family grew. Gene and Jewell had four children: Julie, Jean, Don and Molly. Gene’s career took him all over the nation, and Jewell created a beautiful home for the family everywhere they transferred, from Delaware, Pennsylvania to Titusville, Florida. Mainly, however, the family called Texas their home, residing in Houston, Lake Jackson, Austin, and Huntsville. Jewell became a picker and antiquer,
and gathered and restored hundreds of antiques in the East Texas area in the 70s, filling friends and families homes with wonderfully restored Victorian era pieces, sometimes even for profit.
After a long engineering career, Gene retired in 1982, and the couple moved to Brownwood, to live on her sister Gladys and her husband David Camp’s ranch. They enjoyed helping raise their six grandchildren in the country when they would come for long weeks in the summer. Summers at the ranch with Jewell and Gene were always adventure-filled with picking blackberries, tracking wild animals, fishing, feeding cattle, riding old bulls, playing cards, climbing trees and braving trails, hunting for arrowheads and horny toads, and watching shooting stars. She had an incredibly resilient spirit, tenacity, creativity, and her stern yet patient love and guidance teaching right from wrong, helped shape the values, knowledge and skills of each of her grandchildren.
Jewell loved to set a beautiful table, using the good silver at every single meal of her married life. Even out on a ranch, she served candlelight suppers, directly after treating chigger bites on little knees after a hard-won battle versus the blackberry bush. Jewell taught the grandchildren cooking, baking and sewing. She enjoyed regaling them with stories of her folks coming to Oklahoma in covered wagon. Often, she could be heard singing 40s big band tunes like, “Mares eat Oats,” to the kids, full blast, and off-key.
Jewell is preceded in death by her husband, Gene, her daughter, Jean, her brother Jim, her parents Frank and Ora Watts, and her sisters Cleta, Ruth, and Louise. She is survived by her children: Julie, Don and Molly; by her sister, Gladys Camp; by her grandchildren Madison, Brian, Diana, Kathleen, Sarah, and Justin; her great-grandchildren; and by the many beloved nieces, nephews and thier families. Her grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews were her delight even unto her twilight years. Jewell passed away in the care of her eldest daughter Julie on June 28, 2015. May she rest in peace."
"Happy b'day, mom!"
"On the Good Silver
she served on freshly pressed white linen,
the relish tray, pressed depression glass,
breakfast and lunch served on break-proof Corningware,
dinner on the wedding china. Primrose. Lennox.
Newly murdered Jackson Perkin's peace roses in a Waterford vase, center table.
Hands clean and in our laps atop starched linen napkins,
she served us roast beef and steamed spinach, baked yam,
and cream cheese stuffed pears,
with a smile for our dessert.
Every meal for seventy years,
she outdid herself
for our nutrition.
And always on the good silver.
Etiquette and grammar lessons
five cents extra.
A poem for my epic mother,
forever now beyond the pale.
Mere words cannot compare...
By Molly Berke"
"I was honored to have been able to visit just days before her passing, to introduce my son Michael to his great-grandmother. I will never forget the moment they first exchanged smiles and held hands."
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