William “Billy” Matthew Sheppard was born at Georgia Baptist Hospital on November 6, 1952, the first child of William and Shirley Sheppard.
His father purchased several acres in Cobb County in what was then a mostly rural area north of Atlanta. The family home was built on this tract of land off Holly Springs Rd in 1954. His sister, Deborah, was also welcomed into the family that same year. Her arrival marked the completion of the Sheppard household and the beginning of a lifelong friendship for these two siblings.
It is hard to imagine the East Cobb area as farmland. Behind Billy's house there was corn growing in a large garden and horses that roamed around a barn on the hill. The pumphouse built above a well supplied the family with water for drinking and irrigation. This home would be the setting for Billy's childhood.
His father was a Naval World War II veteran, who fought at Guadalcanal. William "Bill" Sheppard was also a local businessman and entrepreneur. He owned various businesses in and around the city of Marietta. Billy would often speak of setting up the store front window display at Sheppard's Furniture and Appliance on the Marietta Square.
His mother, Shirley Hutchison Sheppard, was a registered nurse for over 35 years. Many of those years were spent as an intensive care nurse at Kennestone Hospital.
Billy attended East Side Elementary, East Cobb Junior High, Wheeler High School & West Georgia College.
In 1973 he married Susan Cole and settled in the area around Woodstock, GA. Together they had two children, Matthew Lance and Sarah Elizabeth.
He entered into numerous business ventures with his father. These included ownership and management of coin laundry and dry-cleaning facilities. He also assisted in the development of Sheppard’s Draperies, a window treatment manufacturing and installation company based in Marietta, GA. This eventually led to a career in the hospitality industry that spanned almost 40 years. He formed Spec Me Please, Inc. in 2003 and his son Lance joined him in 2004 to continue the tradition of the family business.
Billy enjoyed a wide range of interests. Golf was one of the hobbies that was always on his mind. He would often be seen hitting the golf ball around his yard, playing an imaginary golf course that at one time included hitting over the swimming pool to reach the green on the other side. Although never a scratch golfer, he avidly followed the sport and religiously watched the final round of golf events on Sunday afternoon.
Billy also had a love of classic cars. Maybe it was a form of nostalgia. Growing up in the 50’s and 60’s, his childhood was filled with truly classic American automobiles. He would often point out these aging beauties when one passed on the road. His typical response was to simply call out the year, make and model as it passed bye.
Music was something that resonated with him at an early age. As mentioned in other stories, his was a childhood filled with music. Music in the home, music at church and Billy with some form of instrument in his hand. As Billy was coming of age, the world was changing and so was the music of the time. Like millions of other youth of his generation, it is hard to articulate how much the introduction of the Beatles impacted his life. This event forever shaped him and how he would view music as a form of inspiration, love and even social change.
However, all of these interests took a back seat once his first grandchild was born and Billy became Papa. His daughter Sarah and her husband Chris Bunch welcomed their daughter, Halle Elizabeth into the world in July of 2006. His grandson, Thomas Lee followed in February of 2014.
In the fall of 2016 a devastating diagnosis was given to Billy and his family, Metastatic Pancreatic Cancer. Although shocked and then angered by this news, Billy’s amazing spirit shined through. His attitude was upbeat. He purchased a convertible sports car, continued to play golf as best he could and enjoyed more time with his children and grandchildren. In early November 2017 he was joined by his family on a trip to the mountains to celebrate his 65th birthday. Sadly, Billy’s hard-fought battle came to an end on November 27th, 2017.
Reflecting back, we can say that Billy’s life was mostly shaped by his parents. His was a truly loving household. This is apparent in the strong bond he shared with his parents and sister throughout his life. His father’s mind for business and fun-loving charm combined with his mother’s nurturing nature made the special person that was Billy Sheppard. In business, he was always dreaming big, searching for that next opportunity yet most colleagues who speak of him remember his kind, easy going and helpful nature. As a family man, Billy was in a word…amazing. He loved unconditionally. He was someone who you were always glad to see.
As we deeply mourn his passing, his family and friends celebrate the parts of him that live on in us.