John Ben Shepperd
|John Ben Shepperd|
|Attorney General of Texas, USA|
January 1, 1953 – January 1, 1957
|Preceded by||Price Daniel|
|Succeeded by||Will Reid Wilson, Sr.|
|Texas Secretary of State|
February 9, 1950 – April 30, 1952
|Preceded by||Ben Ramsey|
|Succeeded by||Jack Ross|
October 19, 1915|
Gladewater, Gregg County, Texas
|Died||March 8, 1990
|Spouse(s)||Mamie Strieber Shepperd (married 1938-1990, his death)|
|Children||Two sons and twin daughters, including
John Ben Shepperd, Jr. (1942-1970) Alfred Shepperd
|Alma mater||University of Texas at Austin|
|Religion||Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)|
|As attorney general of Texas In that role,he promoted business expansion and historical preservation.|
Shepperd was born in Gladewater, a small town in Gregg County near the more populous county seat of Longview, to Alfred Fulton Shepperd and the former Berthal Phillips. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1938 and an LL.B. in 1941. He was made a partner in the law firm of Kenley, Sharp, and Shepperd in Longview. During World War II, Shepperd served for two years in the United States Army. In 1946, on his release from the military, Shepperd was appointed to complete the term of his father, who had resigned, on the Gregg County Commissioners Court. In Texas, such appointments are made by the county judge.
Shepperd rose to the top ranks of the Jaycees, or Junior Chamber of Commerce, having served as both state and national presidents of the organization. On three occasions, he was named one of the “Outstanding Young Men in Texas”. In 1949, he was named among the “Outstanding Young Men in America”, along with future U.S. President Gerald R. Ford, Jr., of Michigan and later U.S. Senator Charles H. Percy of Illinois. Shepperd was allied with Governor Shivers and the conservative wing of his state’s then dominant Democratic Party which clashed with the liberal wing headed by later U.S. Senator Ralph W. Yarborough of Austin. In 1949, he served briefly under appointment from Governor Shivers on the elected Texas State Board of Education. In 1950, Governor Allan Shivers appointed Shepperd Secretary of State of Texas. In that capacity, he organized an elections law task force and promoted measures to insure economy in government.
As attorney general
Corruption in Duval County
Shepperd spearheaded an investigation of longstanding corruption in Duval County, the political machine province of George Parr (also known as “The Duke of Duval”), located in the barren dusty area east of Laredo in south Texas. Shepperd’s work produced some three hundred indictments of county and school officials.
Other Significant Work
He was involved in the investigation of communist infiltration of organized labor. Shepperd exposed a scheme to defraud Texas of tobacco taxes. He also defended Texas from questions raised by other states regarding the 1953 congressional act which allocated revenues from the tidelands to Texas. In 1956, Shepperd was elected by his forty-seven peers as president of the National Association of Attorneys General.
Land Board Scandal
In 1954, the Veterans' Land Board scandal shook the Shivers administration when it was revealed that certain corrupt land speculators tried to enrich themselves at public expense. Bascom Giles, the elected commissioner of the Texas General Land Office and chairman of the Texas Veterans Land Board, was indicted, convicted, and served a prison term for his role in the scandal. Neither Shivers nor Shepperd was implicated in the wrongdoing, but both as ex officio members of the land board had missed meetings where the abuses had occurred. Another scandal involved insurance companies accused of fraudulent activities. Shepperd had been expected to seek the gubernatorial nomination in 1956, but he left elected politics to become general counsel of Odessa Natural Gasoline Company, later El Paso Products Company, and to establish a new law firm there called Shepperd and Rodman. The governorship went to U.S. Senator Price Daniel, who secured a narrow runoff victory over Ralph Yarborough. Yarborough in 1958 was elected to the first of two terms in the Senate, holding the seat that Daniel had vacated to become Governor. Ironically, Daniel had also been Shepperd's predecessor as Attorney General.
After his tenure as attorney general, Shepperd moved to Odessa, where he was active not only in law but also in insurance, banking, petrochemicals, public relations, and historical preservation. He was a political adviser and personal friend of U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson. In the middle 1960s, Shepperd was named trustee for the acquisition of land for the creation of Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site along the Pedernales River in Gillespie County in the Texas Hill Country. From 1963-1967, Shepperd headed the renamed Texas Historical Commission and supported the placement of more markers along highways to promote historical preservation. He served on the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. He pushed for the establishment in the late 1960s of the University of Texas of the Permian Basin. In 1989, a thoroughfare near the UTPB campus was named the John Ben Shepperd Parkway. One of his later accomplishments was the creation of the John Ben Shepperd Leadership Forum at UTPB, which assists students in developing the techniques to become effective leaders.
He was also involved in the planning and expansion of the Presidential Museum and Leadership Library, an institution on the UTPB campus dedicated to the office of the presidency. The "Library of Presidents" at the museum is named in Shepperd’s honor. In 1984, Shepperd was named “Texan of the Year” by the state Chamber of Commerce, and three years later, the West Texas chamber named him “Outstanding West Texan”.
On October 6, 1938, Shepperd married the former Mamie Strieber of Yorktown in DeWitt County in southeastern Texas. The couple had two sons and twin daughters, John Ben, Jr. (November 13, 1942—June 17, 1970), Alfred, Marianne (September 2, 1948—July 16, 2008), and Suzanne. Shepperd was a member of the Christian Church. He died of cancer at the age of seventy-four at his ranch in Gladewater. Shepperd, his son, and his daughter are interred at his private family cemetery in Gladewater.
In 1992, the Texas Historical Commission placed historical markers on Shepperd's gravesite and also in Gladewater. Another historical marker was erected in his honor in 1981 in Odessa.
- "Social Security Death Index". rootsweb.ancestry.com. Retrieved July 21, 2009.
- "George E. Christian, “John Ben Shepperd”, The Handbook of Texas". tshaonline.org. Retrieved July 21, 2009.
- "”John Ben Shepperd, ex-Texas official, 74”". The New York Times, March 10, 1990. March 10, 1990. Retrieved July 21, 2009.
- ""History of the Presidential Museum and Leadership Library"". presidentialmuseum.org. Retrieved July 7, 2009.
- "”John Shepperd Cemetery”". txgenes.com. Retrieved July 21, 2009.
- "”Heritage of Odessa Foundation”". odessahistory.com. Retrieved July 21, 2009.
|Texas Attorney General
John Ben Sheppard
Will Reid Wilson, Sr.
|Texas Secretary of State
John Ben Sheppard
|Name||Shepperd, John Ben|
|Short description||American politician|
|Date of birth||October 19, 1915|
|Place of birth||Gladewater, Gregg County, Texas|
|Date of death||March 8, 1990|
|Place of death||Gladewater, Texas|