Roots That Run Deep
Mary Shepardson’s connection to Poway goes back a long way. Her parents – who met at Camp Roberts in Northern California during World War II – relocated the family to Southern California when the war was over in pursuit of work in the farming industry. In 1949, shortly before Mary’s fourth birthday, the Shepardsons settled in Poway – a place in which Mary has resided ever since.
“I’ve lived in Poway most of my life and have seen it change from a small town of about 300 people to a thriving city of nearly 50,000,” said Mary. “We have parks and restaurants and shopping and a host of amenities. We don’t have to travel many miles to reach a hospital and our fire and paramedic crews are outstanding.”
Name: Mary Shepardson
Family: One brother (works in Saudi Arabia)
Hobbies & Interests: Poway history, trails, gardening, cooking
With a love for her community and a passion for history, Mary has volunteered for the Poway Historical and Memorial Society for a long time. “When Poway Historical and Memorial Society was formed in 1964, my parents and I were all charter members,” she recalled. “I think there are only two or three of us surviving!” Mary started out researching and writing articles about Poway history and now she helps to curate the Historical Society’s digital archives, produce its quarterly newsletter, and even maintain its Facebook page.
Mary’s career path began with selling real estate, primarily in the Poway area. “From there I moved to writing and editing newspapers and magazines, including special publications in the horse industry and San Diego County Society and Design Magazine,” explained Mary, whose first writing job included a high school sports column for the Poway News-Chieftain in 1962. “In late 2015, I began writing ‘Then and Now,’ a column about Poway history, also for the Poway News-Chieftain.”
Following her writing career, Mary worked 25 years for Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, where she was director of publications.
Perhaps Mary’s most interesting career endeavor was serving on the Poway City Council for six years and serving as Poway’s first woman mayor from April 1982 to April 1983. “The years were interesting, challenging, and rewarding,” remembered Mary. “As a new city, we had to bring together services that had been provided by several local districts (water, sewer, fire, parks), the sheriff’s department and California Highway Patrol. Even more challenging was taking over functions such as the planning and building departments that had been handled miles away by the County of San Diego. We had to develop a new General Plan for the City.”
Although she is now retired, Mary remains an avid supporter of her beloved community. “I’m on the City of Poway’s Trails and Open Space Advisory Board, of which I’ve been a member since the City established it while I was still on the council,” said Mary. “What those of us who live here now need to do is be vigilant about keeping Poway ‘The City in the Country,’ and a special place to live.”