Long before Tom Shepherd began moving tons of fresh berries around the world, he moved a single football from Boulder to Lincoln, Neb. — by bicycle, in the snow, wearing jeans.
Then a first-year Buff from California, Shepherd (Bus’78) had a little help from his friends: He was one of about a dozen members of a relay team raising money for charity by hauling a game ball to the October 1975 CU-Nebraska football matchup.
“It was an early storm,” said Shepherd, director of logistics for Driscoll’s, the global fruit supplier, and the new chair of the Alumni Association’s advisory board. “Once we had traveled east of town a ways, the snow stopped.”
He remembers a bright moon, the chill of night, the wide open spaces of eastern Colorado and Nebraska.
The riders took turns pedaling stretches of the 500-mile journey on a pair of tenspeeds while the others cruised ahead in a van. They used lighters to melt ice from the bikes’ derailleurs.
The mission was a success — the ball arrived at Memorial Stadium. For CU, the game was not: Nebraska won 63-21.
“The Buffs scored first and it was all Nebraska after that,” said Shepherd, who lives in Salinas, Calif., with wife Karen (EPOBio’78).
He doesn’t cycle much now, but he plays trumpet, fishes (fly) and runs marathons — nine so far, in places as far flung as San Francisco, Estes Park and Tahiti.
Work takes him on the road, too, often to Mexico, where Driscoll’s sources many of its berries, but also to Asia, South America and Europe. As director of logistics, Shepherd literally makes sure the trains (and trucks, cargo planes and container ships) run on time while keeping the berries at a target temperature just above freezing.
Shepherd gets to Boulder five or six times a year — his mother, Blanche Shimpfky Shepherd (HomeEcon’46), grew up downtown and he has family and CU friends nearby — but he’ll be on campus a bit more often now.
He said his top priorities as board chair will involve promoting opportunities for alumni to engage with CU and each other, using data analysis to better assess alumni programming and making service to CU rewarding for his fellow volunteers.
“I’m so energized by the enthusiasm,” said Shepherd, who succeeded Brian Cowan (Mktg’79) as chair on June 1. “It’s an honor to be on the board now.”
Shepherd, who lived for spells in Kittredge, Arnett and Andrews Halls and on The Hill, has deep Buff roots. Besides his mother and wife, one of his two sons, Bryan (Mgmt’05), is a Buff. So are assorted aunts, uncles and cousins.
A few days before arriving on campus for April’s board meeting, Shepherd saw off Bryan, who moved with his family to Europe for a yearlong work assignment.
“We’re going to miss him,” Shepherd said, “but he’ll be following the Buffs from Belgium.”
Photo courtesy Tom Shepherd