July 21, 2014
F. Sheppard Holt, 94, beloved husband, father and grandfather, resident of Bedford MA and summer resident of Grindstone Island, died July 19, 2014 at Samaritan Hospital in Watertown.
Shep, as most knew him, was born July 12, 1920 in Chevy Chase, MD to Captain Fred White Holt, a career Navy officer, and Blanche Naomi Holt who were summer residents of Grindstone Island. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics at Kenyon College in Ohio in 1941. From 1942 to 1943 he was a research associate at the MIT Radiation Lab in Cambridge, MA while pursuing his doctorate there. He served his country by joining the Navy in 1943 and volunteering for duty aboard a submarine. He was assigned to the U.S.S. Sealion II in the South Pacific, first as a radar officer with the rank of ensign, later promoted to Lieutenant. The Sealion was the only Allied submarine to sink an enemy battleship.
After discharge in June of 1946, Sheppard resumed his doctoral studies at MIT and reconnected with a childhood friend known from summers spent on the St. Lawrence. Emily Kent Wright was a freshman attending Wheelock College in Boston. They had first met as young children on Long Point, the Grindstone Island property bought in 1923 by Emily’s parents, Craig and Caroline Wright. Both had grown up enjoying swimming, sailing, boating and waterskiing on the River but it was Emily who introduced Shep to what would become one of his lifelong passions, figure skating. By 1948 both were members of The Skating Club of Boston. They married in 1949 and Shep completed his Ph.D. in Mathematics at MIT in 1950.
In 1955, Shep was hired by Tufts University in Medford, MA as a professor of mathematics. With Emily and their 3 children, they moved to Winchester where they lived for over 50 years. During that time, he also worked as a civilian at the Air Force Cambridge Research Lab at Hanscom Field in Bedford. In that capacity, he contributed to the design of the world’s largest single dish radio telescope in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, completed in 1963.
As ice dancing partners, Shep and Emily performed in “Ice Chips”, the annual show of their skating club, for 60 consecutive years. In 1952 they were the New England Junior Ice Dance Champions. An avid racquet sports enthusiast, Shep was a member of the Union Boat Club in Boston and competed in national squash and state tennis tournaments. In 1977 he won the National Squash Championship in the over 55 category. Other interests were golf, billiards, shuffleboard and sailing with Emily in their catamaran on their beloved river. After 30 years of teaching, he retired from Tufts as Professor Emeritus and they spent from late May through September every year on Long Point. Sheppard is survived by Emily, his wife of 65 years; daughter Caroline and husband Ken Larson of Bedford, MA; son Craig Holt and wife Elaine of Marlborough, MA; daughter Alison of New York City, and 3 granddaughters and 2 grandsons.
A memorial service will be held Saturday, August 30 at 2pm at Christ Church Episcopal, Clayton, N.Y. There will be another service on Saturday, September 20 at 2pm in Winchester, MA.
The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be sent to The Skating Club of Boston to dedicate a seat in their new arena. Send to: SCOB at 1240 Soldiers Field Road in Brighton, MA 02135. Condolences may be left at the online guestbook at www.cummingsfuneral.com. Donations in his name may be sent to Skating Club of Boston, 1240 Soldiers Field Rd., Brighton, MA 02135.