From the time she joined Beloit in 1956 to her “retirement” from full- time teaching in 1987 and beyond (she continued teaching part-time for another 20 years) she coached, cajoled, inspired, and demonstrated love and compassion for her students. The relationships she built with many of her students endured over her lifetime. “Eudora Shepherd was an institution unto herself,” reflected Roberta Plachy Krenek’61, one former student.
Shepherd established the college’s vocal program and was a formidable force in preparing students for prestigious music programs and conservatories, state and national competitions, and performance careers in Europe and the United States. She was a self-described stickler for good diction and earned a reputation for logging as many hours as it took to help students prepare for their recitals.
Shepherd studied music at Cornell College, Kent State University, and the University of Iowa. She was a mezzo-soprano, who began voice study as a sophomore in high school after studying the piano from age 7.
Although she was a successful professional singer in her own right, Shepherd told the Janesville Gazette newspaper in 1987 that the greatest joy of her career was building voices and observing the growth of her students. “That’s my biggest thrill,” she said then, “watching young people go on to perform in opera festivals throughout the U.S. and Europe.”
Ellen Phillips Frohnmayer’70, a professional opera singer, studied with Shepherd. She recalls “being carried to a better world” in Shepherd’s large studio inside Scoville Hall. “We would walk and dance around her studio, as I learned to feel the rhythms of the music deep inside,” says Frohnmayer. “My inhibitions had to go, in the presence of Eudie’s joyous big personality, and I found that music, sung her way, was a power that integrated me, body, soul, and spirit.”
In 2007, Beloit College held a golden jubilee concert to recognize Shepherd for 50 years of teaching. Eighteen friends and former students performed opera arias, art songs, spirituals, and choral works that day in her honor.
Eudora Shepherd is survived by two sons, John’71 and James Shepherd’73, six grandchildren, and one great grandchild.