Mary Ohlheiser Shepard ’77

Mary Ohlheiser Shepard ’77 died October 31, 2011, in Roanoke, Va. She was born in Tonawanda, N.Y., on July 14, 1955, and graduated from Hall High School in West Hartford, Conn., where she played on the school’s first women’s interscholastic basketball team. A James Bowdoin Scholar and dean’s list student, she transferred to Bowdoin from Wheaton College, played on Bowdoin’s first women’s varsity swim team, and graduated summa cum laude.

She also sang in the Bowdoin chorus and played flute in the chamber music ensemble. She worked as an analyst at the Naval Air Station in Brunswick, and she completed her master’s degree in mathematics at the University of Denver in 1982. She then joined Sikorsky Helicopter in Stratford, Conn., and worked as a system engineer on the conceptual design team for the LHX (Comanche) helicopter program. In 1989, she transferred within United Technologies to the Global Engineering Center of Otis Elevator, where she continued as a system engineer in product development, eventually becoming manager of system engineering. In 1998, she and her husband joined the Drive Systems Division of General Electric in Salem, Va. She left the company in 2002 when their daughter started kindergarten, and returned part-time five years later, until taking disability leave in September 2011. She was an accomplished flautist, pianist, and vocalist, singing in the high school choir at First Church and later the chancel choir at Plainville Congregational Church. She served as PTA treasurer and Girl Scout leader, taking her troop through their Silver Awards. She served on the Children’s Council and developed and led Scout Sunday and Children’s Sabbath services at Cave Spring United Methodist Church. She also taught a class in “Learning to use my Bible.” She ran the “Read to Feed” summer mission program, raising money for live animals through Heifer International, and worked with the children’s vocal and hand bell choirs for many years. She was a PEO sister in Chapter P in Roanoke and previously Chapter Z in West Hartford. She is survived by her husband of 16 years, Mark Eugene Shepard; a daughter, Hannah Ruth Shepard; her parents, Betty and Robert Ohlheiser, Jr.; and two brothers, Robert Ohlheiser III and James Ohlheiser.