Sheppie Spigner Moore of Oak Bluffs passed away peacefully on Jan. 16, 2023, two days after marking her 98th birthday.
Sheppie entered this world on Jan. 14, 1925, in Port Huron, Mich., as the sixth of seven children born to Arthur Lee Spigner and Cora Brummitt Spigner. As recent arrivals from Camp Hill, Ala., the family rode the wave of the 20th century Great Migration of African Americans from South to North. Sheppie migrated in utero.
Mother Cora passed away when Sheppie was 16 years old. After graduating from Port Huron High School, she was taken under the wing of her eldest sister, Bernice, in Pine Bluff, Ark. Sheppie enrolled in Arkansas State University (now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff), and graduated in 1945 with a B.S. in home economics.
Sheppie ventured to New York City to enroll in the Dietetics School of New York and earn her dietitian license. Dental issues drew her to the office of a dentist recommended by friends. At first sight, Sheppie was skeptical of the experience of the boyish-looking young man. Yet his work won her over. “He took all my money,” she would later tell everyone she knew. “So he had to marry me.”
Sheppie wed Marcus W. Moore in an intimate sunset ceremony on Jones Beach in 1949, followed by a honeymoon drive across the country. Their daughter, Shelley Lorraine, was born the following year. The young family lived in Marcus’ dental office in the Bronx for a time, before securing a nearby apartment.
In 1956, Sheppie and Marcus settled into a newly built home in the suburb of Scarsdale. Sheppie became a Girl Scout leader, and an active member of Scarsdale Congregational Church. In the 1960s, she was appointed to the Scarsdale Citizens Advisory Committee on Human Relations. She was a member of the Scarsdale Fair Housing Group, and a founding board member of the Student Transfer Education Plan (STEP) at Scarsdale High School.
She and Marcus were avid golfers. Vacations took them to the Caribbean, Europe, and Hawaii. Sheppie joined a book club that forged deep friendships lasting some 50 years. She was a skillful cook and baker, a Scrabble shark and a New York Times crossword puzzle player.
As an empty-nester, Sheppie continued her education at Marymount College, and earned a master’s degree in guidance at the Bank Street College of Education. She relished her tenure as a highly respected guidance counselor in the New Rochelle and White Plains, N.Y., school systems.
In the summer of 1961, Sheppie and Marcus vacationed in Oak Bluffs, and became hooked for life. In 1983, Sheppie and Shelley joined forces in the purchase of their dream — a vintage Oak Bluffs cottage with water view. Sheppie cherished the fast friendships of neighbors, the visitations of house guests, Sunday services at Union Chapel, and lazy afternoons in her porch rocker.
Sheppie took early retirement in 1987 to care for Marcus, who was declining in health due to Parkinson’s disease. They became snowbirds, spending winters near Marcus’ family in Miami, Fla. He passed away in 1999. Sheppie moved from Scarsdale to nearby Greenburgh, N.Y., and served as a part-time volunteer at White Plains Hospital.
In 2017, Sheppie’s many decades of summer vacations in Oak Bluffs morphed into full-time residency when she moved into the home of daughter Shelley. Sheppie discovered many of the delights of off-season Vineyard life, from high school musicals and community church suppers to yoga at the Council on Aging, and beach meanders in parkas. She marveled at the easy embrace of the Island’s year-round community. Those who didn’t know her by name greeted her cheerily as “Shelley’s Mom.”
Sheppie was predeceased by Marcus, as well as by all her siblings. She is survived by daughter Shelley Moore Christiansen, and a bounty of nieces, nephews, godchildren, and friends. A celebration of Sheppie’s life will take place in Oak Bluffs in June. Details will be posted at everloved.com.