Aug. 23, 1936—Jan. 25, 2013
Roger P. Shepler, 76, of Fairfield Glade, passed away Jan. 25, 2013, after a courageous battle with cancer. There will be a celebration of Roger’s life at the next Shepler family reunion in July 2013, in Fairfield Glade.
Roger Shepler was born Aug. 23, 1936, in Lansing, MI. He graduated from Lansing High School in 1955 after winning the State Class A Championship in the pole vault. He then attended Western Michigan University where he excelled in football and track and field. Roger was captain of the track and field team that captured their first Mid-American Conference title, and he won the long jump with a school and meet record of 23’10”. The school record remained until 1980. Prior to graduating from Western Michigan University (1959), Roger married his Lansing Eastern High School sweetheart, Nancy Kay Miller. Roger Shepler started his high school coaching and teaching career in 1958 at Harper Creek H.S. in Battle Creek, MI., but soon followed his best friend, Jerry Beckner, to Pontiac Central High School. In 1963, Roger was named head cross country coach and assistant track and field coach at Pontiac Central High School. He took over as track and field head coach in 1968 where he won an impressive 48 major titles, including the 1974 Michigan state title and the prestigious Mansfield (Ohio) Relays. In 1974, he was elected MITCA high school coach of the year for track and field. During his career, Roger enjoyed the opportunity to work with his three children (Greg, Mark and Karla), all of whom competed in track and field.
Roger retired from coaching in 1978 and from teaching in 1991. They moved to Fairfield Glade in 1993. Roger and Nancy enjoyed many wonderful years in retirement in Fairfield Glade. Roger was an avid golfer during his retirement, competing and achieving special recognition in the Tennessee Senior Olympics at a national level. As recent as 2011, he became one of the best amateur senior golfers in Tennessee, finishing first in the state and then in the top 25 in the national tournament. More than the competition, Roger enjoyed the camaraderie of golf, organizing outings and often serving as the “MC,” awarding prizes such as his infamous “cave man” putter. He was one of the organizers of the “Yukon Jacks, The Rovers, The Spring Fling, and the Breakfast Boys.”
Roger also understood the importance of family. He loved to organize, photograph, and create momentos of family vacations and reunions. Roger loved all his grandchildren and entertained them with his “buried treasure hunts” at the Shepler family reunions. Roger also enjoyed taking guests out on their pontoon boat, hunting and fishing, traveling throughout the USA, following the Lady Vols and the MSU Spartans, and being engaged in numerous home improvement projects. Roger “seized every day” and is admired by his friends and family for his work ethic, attention to details, sense of humor, and words of wisdom.
Roger is survived by his wife, Nancy Kay (Miller) Shepler of Fairfield Glade; sons, Gregory Scott Shepler and wife, Diane, of Burlington, VT, and Mark Alan Shepler and wife, Karen, of Jamesville, WI; daughter, Karla Kay McGinnis and husband, Kerry Barnett, of Milford, MI; brother, Ronald Shepler of Charlotte, MI; sister, Bonnie Hatch of Gold Hills, OR; and grandchildren, Samuel, Malcolm, Sinclair, Savannah, Jacqueline, Travis, Amanda, Morgan and Jillian.
Roger was predeceased his parents, Polly and Harry Shepler, and by his best friend, Jerry Beckner, with whom he is reunited once again.
The real legacy of Roger exists in the lives of hundreds of young men and women he mentored and helped nurture during the challenging '60s and '70s in Pontiac, MI. Many of these men and women are now parents and coaches themselves and have sent testimonials describing Roger’s impact in their lives. The family thanks all of them for their words of support and their actions in serving their community and helping friends and family. The life of Roger Shepler demonstrates the power of one and provides a model for many.
Contributions can be sent in Roger Shepler’s memory to:
Fairfield Glade Community Church, 521 Snead Drive Fairfield Glade, TN 38558; or Hospice of Cumberland County, 30 E. Adams, Crossville, TN 38555.
Bilbrey Funeral Home, Inc. (www.bilbreyfh.com) was in charge of the arrangements.
Aug. 23, 1936—Jan. 25, 2013
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