WESTFIELD, NJ — Helping others has been a significant part of William “Bill” Shepherd’s life. His easy-going manner, quiet humor and expertise have contributed to his success in business and community endeavors. Shepherd credits his wife, Anne, whose support allowed him to participate in numerous community ventures.
Shepherd was born in Richmond Hill, a neighborhood of Queens County, New York City. He and his younger brother grew up in Dunellen. After high school graduation, he studied business administration at Rutgers graduating in 1948 and then attended the University of Mexico in 1949 to study Spanish.
The 1940 Selective Training and Service Act required all young men to register for the military draft when they became 18 years old. Shepherd did so, and the U.S. Army called him to serve in 1950 posting him to Germany. He served in the military until 1952.
Having married in 1954, he and Anne rented in Plainfield and saved money for their first home. They bought a house in Westfield in 1957. Three sons were born, two of whom, Pete and Tom, live in town with their families. The third son, Jim, lives in Washington D.C. with his family.
Shepherd’s business career began at Dun and Bradstreet. He earned his MBA from New York University in 1957. He worked at several branches of Chemical Bank in New York from 1953 through 1959 where he gained expertise in lending. He continued his banking career at the Westfield branch of the National State Bank of Elizabeth through 1965. He then served as President and CEO of Horizon Bancorp from 1965 through 1989. He returned to Chemical Bank in New Jersey from 1989 to 1991 as its chairman.
During Mr. Shepherd’s professional career, he was active in town activities such as the leader and cornet player of the Grant School Show Band. Grant School was later demolished to make way for the construction of the Westfield Memorial Library.
He helped begin the local Youth Employment Service matching young people to available summer jobs. Mr. Shepherd was a vestry member of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church administering the affairs of the parish.
Shepherd was president of the Westfield Chamber of Commerce, a board member of the Westfield Foundation, the Westfield United Fund and the Board of Education.
He was the former president of Fairview Cemetery and the past chairman of Overlook Hospital. Shepherd was a board member of the Rutgers University Foundation, and an advisory council member of the New Jersey Veterans Home, Menlo Park. He is a former president of the St. George’s Society of New York, a charitable organization assisting British and Commonwealth people in New York. As a board member of the New Jersey Health Care Facilities Financing Authority, he helped to sell debt at lower interest cost such as bond sales.
With Shepherd’s guidance, the Reeve History and Cultural Resource Center became a reality. He served as co-chairman of the committee, which raised more than a million dollars to restore the Reeve House donated to the town of Westfield by the Reeve brothers. The Westfield Historical Society, of which Shepherd is a trustee emeritus, announced that it is honored to induct Mr. Shepherd into its Hall of Fame.
For more information on the Westfield Hall of Fame, The Westfield Historical Society, and its events visit www.westfieldhistoricalsociety.org and like the Society's page on Facebook.