September 13, 2016 105 years and counting: Alumnus Art Shepard shares his love for Fisher, Ohio State

Art Shepard
Art Shepard

When Arthur “Art” E. Shepard was born in 1911, life was very different. Ohioan William Howard Taft was president of the United States, which numbered just 46.

Technologies were mechanical rather than computerized. Electricity was lighting up some households; coal was still the dominant energy source. Radio was only beginning to move onto the airways. The Titanic had not yet sunk. There had been no World Wars. And the College of Commerce and Journalism at Ohio State, now as the Max M. Fisher College of Business, was still five years away from being founded.

As the college commemorates its centennial year in 2016, Shepard is celebrating his 105th birthday. He is looking back on all that he has accomplished and all that he loves about Ohio State and Fisher.

Shepard’s journey began at Ohio State in the 1930s. He studied business at what was known then as the College of Commerce and Administration. Unfortunately, he left before graduating because of financial constraints.

One of his first jobs out of college was in the insurance industry with Western & Southern Life in Newark, Ohio.

“I enjoyed my involvement in the insurance business very much,” he said. “We did some good things over the years for many people.”

In 1948, Shepard and his longtime friend, Floyd Turner, partnered together to form Turner & Shepard Inc., which became one of the largest insurance firms in Ohio. It was here where he enjoyed his proudest career accomplishment. They worked in partnership with trade and professional organizations to provide group insurance to employers in the same industry who had fewer than 25 employees. This enabled more individuals to have access to affordable health care and other insurance.

After nearly 30 years, the firm became a subsidiary of Alexander & Alexander Inc., only to be bought back 12 years later by Shepard and five other top managers. He continued working into his eighties, when Berwanger Overmyer Associates acquired the agency.

Thankfully, when Shepard left Ohio State he did not leave Ohio State behind.

“Ohio State has been the center of many wonderful experiences and friendships,” Shepard said.

He relishes the opportunities afforded at Ohio State to be involved and serve others, whether through direct volunteer action or giving. 

In 1966, Shepard became involved with the President’s Club. He values his experiences with the organization and appreciates how it raises money to benefit of the university. When Everett Reese, a prominent Columbus-area banker, asked him to serve on the board and chair the President’s Club, Shepard happily agreed. He served on the board for 12 years and as chair for five years. Some of Shepard’s fondest memories are of hosting President’s Club events during football games.

Decades later, Shepard’s commitment to Ohio State has never wavered. Believing in the transformative power that scholarships and financial aid provide to students, he has established three student scholarships. Given his own financial hardships that prevented him from graduating college, he wants to ensure that others are able to overcome monetary hurdles to attain their educational goals.

He also established the Dottie Dohan Shepard professorship in Cardiovascular Medicine in memory of his beloved wife, Dottie, and the Lynne Shepard Jones Endowment Fund for Cancer Research in memory of his daughter, Lynne, who died in 2001. 

At Fisher, he established a professorship in insurance. Bernadette Minton, who was appointed chair of the Department of Finance at Fisher in 2016, holds the Arthur E. Shepard Endowed Professorship in Insurance.

“I have found a lot of opportunity at Ohio State. It has meant so much to me,” said Shepard, who was honored with the University Distinguished Service Award in 1986 and, fittingly, the Everett D. Reese Medal from The Ohio State University Foundation in 1987 for his involvement, commitment and service. Ohio State President Ed Jennings presented Shepard with an honorary degree.

“I didn’t have the money to complete my education,” Shepard said. “So being awarded my degree was wonderful.”

Although so much has changed through the years, his advice to current students or recent Fisher graduates is timeless:

“Don’t be afraid to start your own business,” he said. “Today this is referred to as entrepreneurship, but it still takes courage, dedication and belief in your own skills and abilities.”

Bernadette Minton and Art Shepard
Art Shepard, right, is pictured with Bernadette Minton, left, who was appointed chair of the Department of Finance at Fisher in 2016 and holds the Arthur E. Shepard Endowed Professorship in Insurance.