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Joe Steve Sheppard

2020-05-12

Joe Steve Sheppard, age 86, died May 11, 2020 after a long and extraordinary life. His passing was peaceful with his wife and two daughters by his side. He was born on March 19, 1934 in Stone Mountain, Georgia to the late Margie Elizabeth Goddard and Steve McCurdy Sheppard. Joe was the beloved husband of Joan Baecher Sheppard, with whom he shared close to 25 years of marriage, although he affectionately said �30� to account for all their years together. He is survived by his wife; daughters, Carolyn Sheppard Choe of Acworth, Georgia and Amy Sheppard Mahoney of San Diego, California; grandsons Zachary Sheppard Choe and Connor Garrett Choe; two sisters, Elizabeth Sheppard Cross and Elaine Sheppard Hilliard. He was preceded in death by his younger brother, Melvin McCurdy Sheppard.

Joe graduated from Clarkston High School in Clarkston, Georgia at the early age of 16. He was hired by Western Electric even though he was under 18. His first assignment was installer in Key West, Florida, where he claimed he �grew up to become a man.� Key West in the 1940s offered him a brand-new world as a simple boy from Georgia. Several years later, he enlisted in the army and was stationed at Fort Sheridan in the Great Lakes area of Illinois. While on leave in Sioux Saint Marie, Michigan, he met his first wife, Eileen Mary Spodeck, with whom he had two daughters.

Joe�s time in the Army prepared him for a successful career in the telecommunications industry. He began in Kansas City, Missouri with ITT Kellogg, later ITT Telecommunications. He worked for several smaller companies before forming Caramy Communications in Atlanta in 1964. Caramy was acquired by Digital Telephone Systems (DTS), an early innovator in the telecom equipment arena. Joe continued with DTS in sales and sales management and during subsequent acquisitions by Farinon Corporation and Harris Corporation. In 1981, he founded Resource Systems, Inc. in Atlanta to refurbish and repair used telecom equipment to sell directly to the newly created secondary market, a by-product of divestiture of the Bell Telephone System.

He met Joan in 1989 and they pursued Joe�s love for boating, first with his houseboat on Lake Hartwell in Georgia and South Carolina, and then to long weekends and vacations on the coast with S/V Autumn Wind, an Island Packet 38. He retired in 1995, married Joan, and they moved to St. Marys, Georgia to pursue cruising fulltime. There he became involved in the formation of Cumberland National Bank, serving on its board of directors. Next their beloved DeFever 48 trawler, M/V Solamar, entered their lives. This led to exploring the eastern coast from New England, to the Chesapeake, to the Keys, and on to the Bahamas. In 2005, they moved to Fernandina Beach, Florida and continued their cruising. Joe also found time to serve as a mentor with Take Stock in Children.

Joe was an adventurous man, traveling around the world where he never met a stranger. He was highly skilled at reading road maps, vital to business travel at the time�only once and committed to memory thereafter! Directions were by compass points, not left or right; destinations were in miles, not hours. Family was important and he always stayed in touch with friends from his youth. He developed lifelong friendships with many business associates. Joe was a connoisseur of cuisines, enjoyed fine dining but never hesitated to explore out-of-the-way �dives.� The most important part of the day was cocktail hour when he enjoyed his Dewars and water followed by a nice bottle of wine at dinner.

He was affectionately known as �Papa Joe� to his family and �Captain Joe� to Joan�s. Camp Sheppard provided family youngsters, now young adults, with fond memories of learning to play pool, tie knots, fish, and explore the marshes during summer months. When they were lucky enough to go cruising, there was competition to see who would earn the coveted title of second mate or least desirable scalawag.

Our beloved �Captain Joe� and his smile will be greatly missed.

Plans for a celebration of life will be announced at a later date.

For those wishing to make a donation in Joe�s memory, the family would be honored if they are made to either the Boys & Girls Clubs of Nassau County Foundation (bgcnassau.org) or Take Stock in Children (tsicnassau.org), two causes he cared for deeply.