Dr. Frank Michael Shepard


Dr. Frank Michael Shepard (“Mike”), 86, of Vineyard Haven died on August 2 after a lingering illness.

Born in Tampa, Fla., to Harry Wargo and Annie Jewell Fogarty Shepard in 1935, Mike was proud to be a fifth-generation Floridian. Mike dedicated his life to serving others as a doctor, teacher, mentor, husband, parent, and friend. 

He graduated from Plant High School in Tampa, Vanderbilt University, and the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tenn.

While at Vanderbilt he met Sarah Goodale of Vineyard Haven, who had graduated from Vanderbilt School of Nursing. They married in 1958 while Mike was finishing medical school.

Mike completed his internship at Vanderbilt University, then residencies at the University of California, San Francisco, where their son Martin was born, and at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden. He returned to Vanderbilt, where he was appointed chief resident. He then obtained his board certification in pediatrics and neonatology, the latter overseen by early neonatologist Dr. Mildred Stahlman. While the family was at Vanderbilt, son David and daughter Elizabeth were born.

Mike and Sarah packed up the family and moved to Charlottesville, Va., where Mike taught pediatrics and neonatology at the University of Virginia, establishing its neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). While at the University of Virginia, Mike assisted Beulah Wiley, an African American woman who sought to bring the first medical services to African Americans in poverty-stricken Buckingham County. As Mike made follow-up visits to check on premature babies, he seemed to be the only one at the university who had been to Buckingham. Ms. Wiley, assisted by the university, eventually received a significant grant, and Mike was chosen to serve temporarily as their first physician. While in Charlottesville, Mike and Sarah’s son Steven was born.

The family moved to Omaha, Neb., where Mike became the chairman of the pediatric department at Creighton University. While there, Mike established a NICU at St. Joseph’s Hospital.

Mike was then given an opportunity to help establish a new medical school to serve the Appalachian community. The family moved to Johnson City, Tenn., where Mike served as the chairman of the pediatrics department at East Tennessee State University’s Quillen College of Medicine. In addition to being chairman, he also established his third NICU and ran the university’s pediatric clinic. During his career, he mentored neonatologists Dr. Marian Myers and Dr. Luis Arango.

Even with all of the moves, Mike made sure Sarah and the children were able to spend their summers in Vineyard Haven, and he would visit as his schedule allowed.

Mike and Sarah remained in Johnson City, and later moved to Jonesborough, Tenn., until retiring to Martha’s Vineyard in 2000. Mike continued to serve those in need, becoming an active member of Grace Church, volunteering at their lobster roll fundraisers. He also volunteered with Meals on Wheels, the Thrift Shop, and the Red Cross.

Mike is survived by Sarah, his wife of 63 years, and their children, Frank Martin Shepard, his wife Leigh Anne and their children Asa Martin and Eliza Anne; David Michael Shepard, his wife Margaret (Peggy) and their children Benjamin Robert, his wife Emily, and Marie Elizabeth; Elizabeth Tillson Shepard; and Steven Goodale Shepard, his wife Brenda and their daughter Katrin Anna Jewell. Mike was predeceased by his sister, Nancy Ann Shepard Osborne.

A celebration of Mike’s life will be held at Grace Episcopal Church in Vineyard Haven on Saturday, Oct. 8 at 11 am. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Grace Episcopal Church (graceepiscopalmv.org) or the Visiting Nurse Association of Cape Cod (vnacapecod.com).