Ranger Exes Memorial - RHS Class of 1962 RJC

Donna Drennan DONNA DRENNAN SHEPARD, 55, died in 1999. Cancer was not a private battle for Donna Shepard. She took it into the street and into the offices and classrooms at Mary Orr Intermediate School, where she was principal. She carried her chemotherapy treatments in a fanny pack or backpack and, eventually, pulled her intravenous nutrition behind her in a rolling luggage bag. A year ago, a liver transplant gave cause for optimism, but the cancer reappeared and spread. After a four-year fight, she died at an Arlington hospital. She was 55. Burial was at Emerald Hills Memorial Park in Kennedale, TX. Mrs. Shepard, who lived in Rendon, almost never missed a day of work. She was a teacher of life, forcing students to see not only a cold reality of the world but also sheer determination and caring, said those close to her. "Even though she was really ill, she would always have a smile," said Matt Ellison, an eighth-grade who was a former office aide for Mrs. Shepard. "She was never depressing to be around, but you always knew she was hurting. But she wanted to be there. That's what she needed to do." Born April 17, 1944, in Susanville, CA. She attended Ranger High School in the Class of 1962 and attended Ranger Jr. College at Ranger, TX. Donna worked 28 years in education, including two as an Arlington teacher and 20 as a teacher and later an administrator in Mansfield. She was appointed principal at Mary Orr Intermediate in 1994. In 1996, she became only the second administrator to win the district's Mile Award, generally reserved for innovative teachers. Last summer, after recovering from her transplant, Mrs. Shepard donned a hard hat and helped oversee the final construction of the new building for Mary Orr. "I just thank God that she was able to open Mary Orr," said district spokeswoman Sherilyn Conn, fighting back tears. "That made all the difference in the world. It would not have been the same if she hadn't." Doctors declared Mrs. Shepard cancer-free after the transplant but in December she underwent hip replacement surgery after a tumor was detected. Again, she appeared free of cancer until it was discovered in her stomach in early spring. Nevertheless, she achieved her goal of finishing the school year, said Alma Martinez, acting principal at Mary Orr. Mrs. Shepard's closeness to the students is one of her legacies. It also made her vulnerable to a prank in April 1997, when an employee told her that a drunken man was threatening children outside. She bolted through the front doors, fists clenched, only to find about 800 students and staff members standing on the grounds, releasing helium balloons and chanting "Happy Birthday." "These kids are my life," she said moments after the surprise. "Without them I might just give up." At the time of her death, Mrs. Shepard was survived by her husband, Richard Shepard of Rendon; son, Jim Shepard of Austin; mother, Evangeline Brewer of Everman; brother, Jim Drennan (RHS-1964) of Atlanta; sister, Carol Naegele (RHS-1966) of Eastland; grandson, Ben Shepard; and two grand-daughters, Jessica and Emily Shepard. Her sister Linda Drennan Yarbrough (RHS-1960), also died of cancer. Donna Shepard School Donna Shepard Intermediate School in Mansfield TX