In Memory

David Runyan Shepardson - Class Of 1932

San Diego Union-Tribune, The (CA) - May 10, 2000

David Runyan Shepardson, 86 key figure in Poway water district

David Runyan Shepardson settled in Poway's remote High Valley in 1949, planting lemons, avocados and seasonal crops on arid land reachable only by a rutted dirt road.

Faced with no source of public water and prolonged drought, he opted for a career in real estate instead of agriculture.

But in the next three decades, he would be instrumental in forming the Poway Municipal Water District and developing a water supply and delivery system to quench the thirst of a parched farming community.

Mr. Shepardson, who also helped form the Poway Chamber of Commerce, died Friday at San Diego Hospice. He was 86.

The cause of death was renal failure, said daughter Mary Shepardson.

In the 1950s, Mr. Shepardson was elected to the first board of directors of the Poway Municipal Water District. Until 1978, he served as the district's representative to the San Diego County Water Authority.

Meanwhile, he and his wife, Marion, operated the Shepardson Co. real estate firm for more than 20 years.

Specializing in the sale of undeveloped land, he became a partner in the development of Valle Verde Estates, the first subdivision in the Green Valley area of upscale northern Poway.

His major land sales included the parcel that became StoneRidge Country Club.

As a member of the Poway Planning and Development Committee, a citizens board, he advised the county on planning issues leading up to Poway's incorporation as a city in 1980.

After the city was incorporated, Mr. Shepardson's daughter, Mary, served on its first City Council and as mayor.

Mr. Shepardson was a founding member of St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church, where he served on the bishop's committee and the vestry. Over the years, the church evolved from a meeting room in a cramped Veterans of Foreign Wars building to a structure on Pomerado Road.

Along the way, the church occupied a rented house and a storefront in what today is Old Poway Park.

Over the years, Mr. Shepardson lived in about a dozen homes in Poway after moving there from Fallbrook, where he began to pursue a boyhood dream of becoming a farmer after World War II.

Mr. Shepardson was born in Aurora, Ill., and raised in South Pasadena. He enrolled at Pomona College with the intention of being an architect but was persuaded by a teacher to study economics.

After graduating in 1936, he opened a hardwood lumber and garage door company in the Los Angeles area.

As international tensions mounted, Mr. Shepardson sold his business and enlisted in the Army before the United States' entry into World War II.

While stationed at Camp Roberts in central California, he married Marion Glenn.

During the war, Mr. Shepardson served as airdrome maintenance officer for the Army Air Forces' B-29 base on the Pacific island of Tinian. From there, bombing raids were launched on Japan -- including the atomic bomb missions on Nagasaki and Hiroshima that led to the end of the war.

Mr. Shepardson received a Bronze Star for his Tinian duties and left the military in 1946 with the rank of major.

Decades later, Tinian was among the many sites in his itinerary as he and his wife traveled to Europe, Africa, the Arabian peninsula and the Pacific Islands.

After retiring from real estate in the early 1970s, Mr. Shepardson built a 17-foot motorboat in his garage. He also produced custom-made golf clubs, which he used at StoneRidge Country Club, where he held membership No. 1 after StoneRidge became private.

Mr. Shepardson enjoyed exotic cooking and became an expert at deep-pit barbecue.

He barbecued meals for community organizations and Poway High School functions and was known for his signature chili.

He is survived by a daughter, Mary Shepardson of Poway; and a son, Philip, of Jiddah, Saudi Arabia.

A celebration of life is scheduled for 10 a.m. tomorrow at Lake Poway. Cremation was planned, with a portion of the ashes to be scattered at sea off Santa Catalina Island, one of his favorite boating destinations. The remainder will be beside the ashes of his wife in Poway's Dearborn Cemetery.

Donations are suggested to San Diego Hospice.