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Official Obituary of

John Michael Shepherd, Sr.

December 12, 2023
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John Shepherd, Sr. Obituary

John Michael Shepherd Sr., of Greenwood, Delaware, passed away peacefully on Tuesday, December 12, 2023, at the Delaware Veterans Home in Milford at the age of 80.  Mr. Shepherd was born in Columbia, TN on August 27,1943 to the late, John Walton and Charlene Brown Shepherd.

Mike, as he was called by family and friends, spent his early years living in Florence, Alabama. He realized early in life that he had a love for music and playing the drums. He attended Coffee High School in Florence, Alabama, where he played in the Coffee High School Band. There he met many people who would become life-long friends. He also became a member of the band, Hollis Dixon and the Keynotes.

Mr. Shepherd Joined the United States Navy in 1961 and went on to serve his country proudly for over 20 years. He retired from the Navy in 1983 as a Senior Chief Petty Officer. During his military career he was a drummer in the US Navy Commodores Band in Washington, DC. and the US Naval Academy Band in Annapolis, Maryland. He spoke most fondly of the time he spent as a percussion instructor at The Navy School of Music, Little Creek, in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He was passionate about music and was fortunate to work as a musician for his whole career. He spent one year in the Maynard Ferguson Band, which included playing at the prestigious Carnegie Hall, and played for many years with Dick Morgan and Zim Zemarel. In addition to his time teaching at the Navy School of Music, Mr. Shepherd also taught at the University of Maryland, Penn State, and Shepherd’s College. He also spent some time playing drums aboard the Delta Queen Steamboat, on the Mississippi River.  Later in his career, Mr. Shepherd focused more on teaching private lessons in his home and composing his own music.  Although he played jazz his whole life, Broadway music and film scores were his favorite to listen to.

Family truly was the most important thing to Mr. Shepherd. He loved his family dearly, and endeavored to spend as much time as possible with them. Later in life when his grandchildren came along, he loved nothing more than to be called "Poppy". 

Mr. Shepherd will be known for his story telling and tall tales.  He was full of charisma and a people person who loved to sit around the table and talk. He was a master joke teller and always delivered his punch lines with the utmost smoothness and timing. Everything he did in life had to flow and have perfect timing, a trait he had to master as a drummer. He was a perfectionist and was quick to point out anything that was not grammatically correct. He enjoyed his coffee strong, and while most people may prefer cream and sugar, he liked putting cayenne pepper in his, and even tried to share that with those that were closest to him. He will be greatly missed.   

In addition to his parents, he is preceded in death by his second wife, Sandra Shepherd; and siblings Gary Shepherd, Charles Dennis Shepherd, and Phillip Shepherd.

He is survived by his children, from his first marriage to Claudia, and their spouses, John (Gaffney) Shepherd Jr., Christopher (Marcey) Shepherd, Victor (Amy) Shepherd, Jessica (Christopher) Petrone, Marta (Henry) Malinski; 24 grandchildren, Brittney Cruttenden, Sydney Shepherd, Avery Shepherd, Christopher Shepherd Jr., Collin Shepherd, Cameron Shepherd, Carson Shepherd, Ava Shepherd, Bryan Shepherd, Mackenzie Shepherd, Gracianna Shepherd, Gabriel Shepherd, Lexi Shepherd, Carter Shepherd, Christopher Petrone Jr., Joseph Petrone, Timothy Petrone, Amy Petrone, Hannah Petrone, Autumn Malinski, Jordan Malinski, Charity Malinski, Faith Malinski, Hope Malinski; and 10 great grandchildren. He is also Survived by his sister, Jeri Shepherd, and many beloved nieces and nephews.  

A Memorial Service for Mr. Shepherd, with military honors, will be on Friday, January 5, 2024, at the Melvin Funeral Home, 15522 South DuPont Hwy., Harrington, DE, at 11 AM, with a visitation starting at 10 AM.   


Arrangements are entrusted to the Thomas E. Melvin & Son Funeral Home, please visit us at www.melvinfuneralhome.com to express or send condolences.

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January 5, 2024

10:00 AM to 11:00 AM
Melvin Funeral Home
15522 S. DuPont Hwy
Harrington, DE 19952

Memorial Service
January 5, 2024

11:00 AM
Melvin Funeral Home
15522 S. DuPont Hwy
Harrington, DE 19952


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