John Ben Shepperd devoted countless hours and energy to the people of Texas during his 50 year career as a public servant and private citizen. He served as Texas Secretary of State and as Texas Attorney General. As a private citizen, he served as an advisor and confidant to seven Texas Governors and innumerable legislators at both the state and federal level. He was a friend to President Lyndon Johnson and assisted in several events and activities during the Johnson Administration.
Over the course of his lifetime, General Shepperd received numerous honors and awards. He was named one of the “Five Outstanding Young Texans,” one of the “Ten Outstanding Young Men of America,” the “Texan of the Year,” the “Outstanding West Texan” and the recipient of the “Texas Lyceum’s Stewardship of Texas Values Award.” Despite the many accolades, General Shepperd emphasized that the awards were not the ultimate goal, but serving one’s community and country was what mattered. His life clearly demonstrated this philosophy. He chaired or served on over 300 boards, commissions and committees including his service as President of the National Jaycees. He worked tirelessly to help create the Texas Commission on the Arts as well as the Texas Historical Commission’s highway marker system denoting sites of historical importance.
Throughout his career, John Ben Shepperd stood as the ultimate embodiment of a concerned citizen who believed that public leadership was the highest calling a person could receive and answer. He led by example and eventually fostered improved opportunities for men and women in areas of public service, education, politics, humanities, culture, beautification, historical preservation and free enterprise. He was a talented orator who coined the phrase, “Freedom is Not Free.” That phrase is now emblazoned on the Korean War Memorial in our Nation’s capitol and is also the name of a collection of his speeches to young people. He authored a book on the management of volunteer organizations and also found time to write children’s stories. His legacy of public service continues through the Shepperd Leadership Institute’s programs and the lives of individuals who have been influenced by his ethics, morals, values and his truly effective style of leadership.
Dr. Robert Brescia’s 2015 book, The Americanism of John Ben Shepperd, describes Shepperd’s love for Texas, freedom, and the American way of life. To purchase a copy, visit the publisher’s website; for reviews of the book, visit the Odessa American and Lone Star Literary Life.