Biography

Following are two sections:  (I.) Introduction by Florence Krall Shepard; and, (II.) Chronology of main life events, interests, positions, and books.

I.

In October 1994, Paul Shepard was informed by his doctor that he had metastatic cancer and had only a short time to live. Until that time, being a man filled with great energy, motivation, and interest in life, he had never really considered dying. For several months he hovered, stunned, on the doorstep of death. Then, after a partial recovery, he began compiling notes and references for his last books. He then went back to his desk where he worked steadily until a few weeks before his death.

I was Paul’s partner for the last decade of his seven on this earth. Long before I first met him, I had read his books and used them in my environmental studies seminars at the University of Utah. Some of these books I had ordered directly from him, but I had never met him in person until Valentine’s Day, 1985. On his way to Jackson, Wyoming for a speaking engagement (and, from there, on to India on a Fulbright lectureship), he asked me to meet him for lunch on his stopover at the Salt Lake City airport. I suggested, instead, that he arrive a day earlier to speak to my graduate seminar where we were reading his Nature and Madness.

So I found myself standing at the arrival gate watching people stream out of a plane just in from California. Assured that I would recognize him from a composite version I had framed in my mind from dust jacket pictures, I was unprepared when a tall, slender man with graying beard and hair, wearing a weathered leather jacket and clutching a brief case and small brown suitcase, strode past me at break-neck speed. I hurried to catch up and asked tentatively, “Paul?” He turned, looked at me (I might add, ‘with eyes bluer than robins’ eggs’) and answered, “Flo, there you are!”

I rushed him off to the university where students were waiting and where for three hours he held us in awe. He began his lecture without wasting time on disclaimers or niceties. Expecting that we had come to hear what he had to say, he delivered a lecture that was brilliantly crafted, eloquent, and executed with only occasional references to a short list of topics he had written on a small yellow pad. At the end of the lecture, he received each question with complete attention, never answering the query directly, but extending and bringing added depth to the topic. With a firm idea of who he was and what he believed, he met criticism with humility, without defense, but with firm commitment to his ideas. I listened transfixed as I would many times in the next years during one of his lectures.

One of my graduate students took him to the airport early the next morning, and I didn’t hear from him again for four months. In June, on a short vacation from academia at a cabin in Bondurant, Wyoming, with a grandson who loves to fish, I was surprised one morning to see Paul drive up in a cloud of dust and his little blue Honda. In the next months our friendship and commitment grew firmly into a partnership. We eventually built our own cabin in Bondurant where he could fish the streams after a good day’s work at the desk.

My first portrayal is of Paul as a teacher, for that is how he saw himself and is, I believe, how he would want to be remembered. Paul refused to be placed in zoology or biology cubbyholes and disliked teaching traditional science courses. Fortunately his position at Pitzer College in environmental studies as an endowed chair of Natural Philosophy and Human Ecology allowed him to teach interdisciplinary courses and to address topics of his own choosing.

He valued good questions and interest in his work, and welcomed friends and colleagues to our home. Visits became seminars and he gave each his complete devotion and concentration. After guests left, however, Paul, completely spent, would often collapse for a day or two of recuperation before he could get back to his own work. It was obvious that he had given his all.

On visits, his children always came with natural history questions, mostly to do with the identification or behavior of animals that they had observed. These queries were an opening to conversations with their father and reminiscences that followed about a past intertwined with kept animals, travels, and misadventures that had been part of their child-hoods.

Referring to the marvelous vacations he planned with his children each summer, his daughter, Jane wrote, “We had adventures together….You showed me the world, and took me to places all through my childhood, into adulthood, that gave me scope and a realization of the earth and different cultures that nothing but adventure can bring.”

Much of his travel, which was extensive, was planned around geographical or archeological sites that might contain information to illuminate his topic of concern.

Paul loved to fish. His son, Kent, built a small ‘John boat’ to Paul’s precise specifications and together they fished the Green and New Fork Rivers in Wyoming. We spent some golden autumn days floating the rivers with geese and sandhill cranes sounding overhead and huge moose staring at us from shore.

Paul hunted throughout his life, later more with binoculars than with guns. As a youth he hunted and fished with his father and followed Ben, a friend slightly older than himself and a skilled hunter and trapper.

Hunting and the attention to detail it requires led Paul to a deep love of all nature, but his greatest passion was for animals that since childhood had guided him through a series of passages. After his service in the army during World War II, he enrolled at the University of Missouri in wildlife biology and English literature, and attended Cornell University summer courses in ornithology to improve his proficiency in bird identification. Partly due to this good grounding, Paul became an excellent naturalist and an impressive ‘birder.’

When we drove through the countryside, he would roll down the car window a crack so that he could hear the birdsong, and he would intersperse our conversation with the names of the birds whose calls filtered through the window. As a young professor at Knox College, he kept and studied a colony of crows. But of all animals, the bear held the most fascination and meaning for him. For twenty years, he admitted, he had been involved in an “intermittent meditation on the bear.”

Paul was delighted when anyone invited him along on backpack or hunting trips and found great pleasure in planning for such ventures.

Paul was a voracious and selective reader, hunting down references and following the meandering trails of research. Sorting and resorting his notes was a means of framing his direction for current research. Next he made a list of the topics he intended covering in the new book or essay. When he began The Others he taped to the study door a list of over 100 topics he intended exploring in the book. In the years since his death, editing his manuscripts and papers, I have become more starkly aware of the vast body and deep insight of his literary legacy.

It was a great pleasure and privilege to share Paul’s life for a decade and I hope to enrich what remains of my life and work with the wisdom of his words. He set a splendid model for hard, continuous dedication to his many projects sprinkled each day with a good mix of love and play–and fishing, when possible. When he left us with that long, final sigh, it was as if he had turned the concluding page of his last book and said, ‘Well, that’s all there is this time around.'” [See also: “Paul Shepard: Thinking Animal & Tender Carnivore”.]

–Florence R. Shepard
Professor emerita of educational studies at the University of Utah, essayist, and author of two books: Ecotone (SUNY, 1994) and Sometimes Creek: A Wyoming Memoir (2012).

II.

CHRONOLOGY

1925:  Paul Howe Shepard is born on June 12, at St. Luke Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, the first of two children born to Clara Louise Grigsby Shepard and Paul Howe Shepard, a horticulturalist who specialized in fruit growing.

1931:  Attends Troost Elementary School.

1935:  In February moves with parents to Mountain Grove, Missouri, where his father is appointed Director of State of Missouri Fruit Experiment Station.  Writes and publishes The Weekly Chit-chat, which reports the news of the Fruit Station, and delivers it with a cart drawn by the family dog, Judy. Begins collecting bird eggs.

1936:  First meets Rudolph Bennitt, a zoologist and professor of wildlife management at the University of Missouri, who visits the Fruit Farm in connection with his population studies of Bobwhite Quail.

1938:  Meets Ernest Thompson Seaton at his camp for boys while on a vacation with parents visiting relatives in New Mexico.

1942:  Takes tests and applies for the ASTP (Army Specialized Training Program) which supported qualified Army Volunteers in college training.

1942:  Attends Northwestern University Summer Institute of Journalism.
1943:  Graduates from Mountain Grove High School on May 14 and delivers the salutatory address. Waiting for his call to the army, he enrolls for summer term at the University of Missouri, but, impatient with delays, volunteers in July and is sent to Camp Roberts in Paso Robles, California for basic training as a gunner on105mm Howitzers. He completes his basic training in December. He is sent to Santa Rosa Junior College, a clearing station for ASTP, where he meets Mal Wood, who becomes a life-long friend.

1944:  Attends ASTP at New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts at Las Cruces, New Mexico in January (with Mal Wood) where he completes a basic general course. The program is dissolved in March and he is sent to Camp Barkley, Texas. Assigned to Battery A of the 493rd Armored Field Artillery, he trained as a radioman on M-7’s. In October, he was shipped to Camp Tidworth at Windmill Hill in England and, in November, went ashore at Normandy to take part in the Battle of the Bulge.

1945:  With the end of WWII, he is assigned as an information and education specialist to the First Armored Division of Occupation in Heidenheim, Germany. As a Historical Technician, he edits, engages a publisher, and supervises the printing of a history of his battalion in combat: The Pictorial History of the 493 Armored Field Artillery Battalion.

1946: Attends the University of Neuchatel, Switzerland for 60 days during January and February where he studies French, Swiss geology, Swiss culture, Milton & Cromwell’s time, and anatomy and physiology (parasitology) taught by Jan von Baer.  Is honorably discharged from the Army of the United States on April 15 at the Separation Center, Jefferson Barracks, MO. Spends summer working at the Fruit Station, visiting friends in Texas and attending wedding of Sandy Toland in Philadelphia, who was with him in Neuchatel.

Attends University of Missouri to study wildlife conservation and English literature within the Cooperative Wildlife Unit, which is run by the university, the state conservation commission, the Wildlife Management Institute, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Rudolph Bennitt served as director and major professor.

1947-48:  Enrolls in summer ornithology courses at Cornell University taught by Arthur Allen. Becomes a teaching assistant in ornithology at the University of Missouri; and, with Dick Youse, goes birding every morning. Works as a summer naturalist in Big Spring State Park, MO.

1949:  Graduates from the University of Missouri with an A.B. in English and Wildlife Conservation; declines Rudolph Bennitt’s suggestion to apply for a Rhodes Scholarship. Works as a summer naturalist at Crater Lake National Park, OR. In the fall, becomes field secretary for the Missouri Conservation Federation, directed by Charles Callison. He organizes conservation clubs populated by sportsmen.

1950:  Marries Melba Wheatcroft, and moves to New Haven, Connecticut. Enters Yale University’s Conservation Program directed by Paul Sears and Evelyn Hutchinson.

1950-54:  Appointed laboratory assistant in Zoology during graduate studies at Yale University. Works as a seasonal park naturalist at Glacier National Park, MT. Receives an American Museum of Natural History Grant to conduct a population study of the Bermuda Petral (Cahow), at the Bermuda Biological Station for Research.

1952:  Receives an M.S. from Yale University in Conservation. His thesis is on the relation of art and ecology in New England. Son, Kenton Howe Shepard, is born. Works as summer seasonal park naturalist at Glacier National Park, MT. Enters a doctoral program at Yale University in the fall.

1953:  Granted the Arthur Hoyt Scott Garden Award by the National Council of State Garden Clubs, with a membership of 250,000; and, invited to serve as conservation chairman. As such, he became a member of the Natural Resources Council of America and took active part in lobbying in Washington with David Brower (Sierra Club), Charles Callison (National Wildlife Federation), Ira Gabrielson (Wildlife Management Institute), Olaus Murie, Sigrid Olsen, Joe Penfold (Izaak Walton League), Fred Packard (National Parks Association) and Howard Zanheiser (Wilderness Society). He and Rachel Carson, with their common interest in the effects of pesticides, also crossed tracks at testimonies in Washington.

1954:  Receives a Ph.D. from Yale University with an interdisciplinary degree in Conservation, Landscape Architecture, and History of Art. His dissertation committee included Paul Sears (Conservation) as chair, with William Jordy (Art History), Ralph Henry Gabriel (American History) and Christopher Tunnard (Landscape Architecture). He is strongly influenced by G. Evelyn Hutchison, who suggests that he pursue an interdisciplinary degree. His dissertation topic is “American Attitudes Towards the Landscape in New England and the West, 1830-1870.”

1954:  Is appointed professor of biology and director of Green Oaks, the college field station at Knox College (1954-64). Moves to Galesburg, Illinois.

1955:  Daughter, Margaret Elizabeth Shepard, is born.

1956:  Summer seasonal park naturalist at Olympic National Park, WA.

1957:  Instructor in ecology at Audubon Center in Connecticut.

1958:  Daughter, Jane Shepard, is born.  Receives an E. I. Lilly Foundation grant for summer research on environmental perception by early travellers on the Oregon Trail in Kansas, Nebraska and Wyoming.

1959-60:  Receives NSF Grant to direct summer ecology programs for nationally selected high school students. Receives National Institute of Mental Health Public Service Grant to direct research on social structure of birds (crows). Attends NSF Radiation Biology Summer Institute at Tulane University.

1961:  Receives a Senior Fulbright Research Fellowship at Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand to conduct research on the perception of the landscape by English settlers in New Zealand. Father, Paul Howe Shepard II dies.

1962-63:  Is a participant in a NSF Summer Institute on Advanced Biology Instruction conducted by the University of Southern California in Costa Rica.  Receives grant for directing an in-service summer institute in ecology for regional secondary school teachers.  Summer travels to Italy and England to study formal gardens.

1964:  Appointed Honorary Fellow in Zoology, The University of Wisconsin.

1964-70:  Appointed lecturer in Biology at Smith College.

1965:  Marries June Smith Atwater. Hikes in Mexico with June and brother, Richard Shepard. Moves to Williamsburg, MA.

1967:  Publishes Man in the Landscape, An Historic View of the Esthetics of Nature. Teaches a summer field course in “Art and Ecology” at the College of Arts and Crafts in California.

1968:  Teaches a summer course in “Art and Ecology” in Mexico for College of Arts and Crafts, Oakland, CA. Visiting professor at Williams College.

1969:  Publishes The Subversive Science, Essays Toward an Ecology of Man (with Daniel McKinley). (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1969.)  Publishes English Attitudes Towards the New Zealand Landscape Before 1850, Pacific Viewpoint Monographs #4, Wellington, New Zealand, 1969. Travels around the world with son, Kent.

1969-70:  Recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Foundation fellowship for research on the cultures of hunting/gathering peoples.

1970:  Spends year in San Diego, CA, where June has a research grant in human genetics at UCSD. Teaches courses at University of California at San Diego and at Pitzer College.

1971:  Publishes Environ/mental: Essays on the Planet as a Home, with Daniel McKinley. (Houghton Mifflin, 1971.)

1972-1973:  Appointed Visiting Professor of Environmental Perception, Dartmouth College.

1973-1994:  Appointed Avery Professor of Natural Philosophy and Human Ecology, Pitzer College and the Claremont Graduate School. Publishes The Tender Carnivore and the Sacred Game. (New York: Scribners, 1973.)

1974-78:  Spends summers in Massachusetts writing essays and book. Publishes Thinking Animals: Animals and the Development of Human Intelligence. (New York: Viking Press, 1978.) Travels to India with June. Spends fall in Crete. In December, goes on a bear hunt.

1979-80:  Appointed Fellow in Humanities of The Rockefeller Foundation to write Nature and Madness. 1981 Builds house in Los Osos, CA.

1982-3:  Publishes Nature and Madness. (San Francisco: The Sierra Club, 1982.)  Travels to Greece and England, working on The Sacred Paw.

1984-1988:  National Lecturer for Sigma Xi.  Recipient of a Distinguished Visiting Lectureship from The Fulbright Program in India. During spring term is appointed Visiting Professor at the University of Melbourne, Department of Environmental Planning and Landscape Architecture.

1988:  Marries Florence Krall.

1988-1989:  Appointed Fellow for International Exchange of Scholars in India to research animals in Hindu temple architecture.

1991:  Builds cabin in the Hoback Basin, Wyoming.

1993:  Moves to Wyoming.

1994:  Begins work on several manuscripts: The Others: Animals and Human Being and The Eclectic Primitive: Nature and History; and, several books of essays.  In spring, retires from Pitzer College and is appointed Professor Emeritus. In fall, is diagnosed with metatstatic lung cancer.

1996:  Publishes The Others: Animals and Human Being. (Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 1996.) And, The Only World We’ve Got (San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1996.)

1996: Dies on July 16, 1996 at home in Salt Lake City.

Posthumous Publications:

Traces of an Omnivore, with Introduction by Jack Turner.  (Island Press, 1996).

The Only World We’ve Got: A Paul Shepard Reader. (Sierra Club Books, 1996.)

The Others: How Animals Made Us Human. (Island Press/Shearwater Books, 1996.)

Coming Home to the Pleistocene, Florence R. Shepard (Ed.) (Island Press/Shearwater Books, 1998).

New edition of Nature and Madness, with Foreword by C.L.Rawlins. (University of Georgia Press, 1998.)

New edition of Thinking Animals: Animals and the Development of Human Intelligence, with Foreword by Max Oelschlaeger. (University of Georgia Press, 1998.)

New edition of The Tender Carnivore and the Sacred Game, with Foreword by George Sessions. (University of Georgia Press, 1998.)

Encounters With Nature, ed. Florence R. Shepard, with Introduction by David Petersen. (Island Press/Shearwater Books, 1999.)

New edition of Man in the Landscape. (University of Georgia Press, 2002.)

Where We Belong: Beyond Abstraction in Perceiving Nature, edited by Florence R. Shepard (University of Georgia Press, 2003.)