In 1971, Dr. Sheppard received the University’s Excellence in Teaching Award, and his name is inscribed on a brick in Mentors’ Circle, a landscaped area just west of Memorial Hall on UD’s Newark campus that acknowledges faculty for their contributions to teaching excellence and mentorship of students.
Dr. Sheppard retired from UD in 2005.
Provost Robin Morgan called Dr. Sheppard’s work on the bacterial arabinose operon “nothing short of outstanding.” Morgan explained that “The ara operon was very unique and didn't follow the usual rules of the times. Dave had the courage and integrity to stand up for his results and present them with pride and dignity. Time proved him to be correct!”
Morgan, who previously served as chair of the biological sciences department, shared a personal story with members of the department upon learning of Dr. Sheppard’s passing. “When Dave learned that I had never walked in Commencement at Johns Hopkins University, he generously gave me his original JHU academic regalia. I still have the Cotrell and Leonard cardboard box it came in, and I treasure this vintage piece very, very much. It remains to me one of the most special gifts I have ever received.”
Roger Wagner, professor emeritus of biological sciences, said, “Dave Sheppard has passed and left a hole in the hearts and minds of all who knew him. He was an excellent and award-winning teacher and scholar of genetics. He contributed greatly to the design and construction of the then-new McKinly Laboratory. Dave was always the calm in the middle of academic storms and to my knowledge never spoke ill of anyone. He seemed to sense when someone needed encouragement and provided it gladly. I admire him most for his dedication to his wife, Gayle, during many years of infirmity. His loving care for her was a testimony to the character of this man.
“Dave was the center around which retired faculty and colleagues gathered for lunches at the Scrounge and he rarely missed one of these gatherings,” Wagner continued. “Until recently he was a man of robust health, felling trees in his back yard and splitting wood at our cabin in the Poconos. Dave was not a shallow man and thought deeply about things. We disagreed on many things but our loving friendship always prevailed. Dave would have been embarrassed about these things I have said about him since the last thing he would have wished would be the center of attention. God speed my good friend.”
Linda Dion, instructor in biological sciences who retired from UD in 2014, said, “Dave was a wonderful colleague in the bio department. He was well respected for his research and teaching, and always gave thoughtful opinions when asked. When I joined the faculty in 1986, my office was right down the hall from his. My position in the department was just an instructor; but that did not prevent Dave from showing interest and respect, frequently dropping in to see how I was doing, or warmly receiving me if I walked down the hall to ask him a question. This kindness continued for the years I was in the department. To keep all of us retirees (and some nonretirees) in touch after Dave himself retired, he contacted us monthly to arrange a lunch; he made us all feel welcome in the group.”
“Dave contributed enormously to the development of my career at UD and I am eternally grateful to him. May he rest in peace,” said Patricia DeLeon, Trustees Distinguished Professor Emerita of Biological Sciences and Francis Alison Professor.