Friends, family reflect on Susan Sheppard’s legacy
PARKERSBURG — The Mid-Ohio Valley mourned the loss of a beloved storyteller, artist, writer, poet and friend on April 19.
Susan Sheppard left behind a legacy that will not soon be forgotten. Her talents and impact not only reached people in the community, but people around the country.
Friends and family shared recollections of Susan’s life and how she brought people together with her art.
She is most known for creating the Haunted Tours of Parkersburg, a walking tour of the various spots in town with a colorful past.
To Olivia Reeder, family friend of Sheppard, she created a culture for Halloween and the sometimes dark history of the Mid-Ohio Valley.
“She was the expert, ‘Oh you’ve got to ask Susan.’ It’s been that way for years. I don’t think people truly grasp the amount of dedication she put into creating this entire culture we have,” Reeder said.
With her storytelling abilities, Sheppard brought paranormal and history buffs to Parkersburg from around the country and earned a spot among top ranked ghost tours in the country.
“She was an extremely gifted storyteller, a lot of people, even if they know the content, the ability to tell the content in a compelling way that attracts so many people is an impressive talent,” Reeder said.
Her storytelling abilities did not end with the tours. Sheppard had several published works including novels, poetry and nonfiction.
“She’s a fantastic poet, (she was) just the type of person. (Susan and her daughter Scarlet) both have that gift with poetry. They can translate everyday things and feelings into words,” Reeder said.
Sheppard not only impacted the community with her talents, she reached people on a personal, emotional level.
Reeder said she made space for unique people, as she was unique herself.
“She was kind to everyone. She was very funny and had a sarcastic wit about her. She was always telling a story of some sort even if she was talking about everyday life,” Reeder said.
Paul Eno, editor at New River Press, and a paranormal adventurer who admits he was generally skeptical of psychics, mediums and ghost tours, said Sheppard helped change his view.
“Here was a thoughtful woman with vast historical knowledge, a discerning approach to the paranormal, and with a willingness to go beyond the traditional interpretation of supernatural events and consider new possibilities,” Eno said.
Sheppard often taught others about astrology and was the astrologer for a popular magazine for about a year.
With all of Sheppard’s accomplishments, it is well known her greatest “creation” is her daughter Scarlet Sheppard, as described in her obituary.
Scarlet feels lucky to have had her as a mom and wishes she had more time with her, but she feels her mother lived her life to the fullest and enjoyed fulfilling her dreams of creating art.
“This moment feels tragic. But, as my mom would tell you, the real tragedy would be living 100 years as an inauthentic version of ourselves,” Scarlet said. “The magic she packed into her time is a gift to me, to everyone who loved her, and to her beloved West Virginia.”
Although Susan had several illnesses throughout her life, family members said it was remarkable she accomplished as much as she did.
“I will forever be proud to be her daughter,” Scarlet said.
Candice Black can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.