John Shephard was a quiet, shy man who lived a simple existence, by himself, with no living family other than a distant cousin. A long-time employee of the Vernon Museum, Shephard became the Curator in 1967, shortly after the museum was built. Although he retired in 1984, Shephard still volunteered at the museum every day archiving property assessment records and happenings in the Vernon Daily News until he suffered a stroke in 2003.

Friends of Shephard knew that he was passionate about botany, reading and classical music, but they didn’t know that he had another keen hobby – wisely investing his money. Shephard passed away on Christmas Eve 2003, and left his life savings to the museum – of which nearly $300,000 was forwarded to the Community Foundation of the North Okanagan. Some of the remaining funds were used to purchase moveable aisle shelving, which now holds many of the documents Shephard worked so tirelessly to archive. The Foundation also accumulates a pool of monies from its own endowment, that many community-based charitable organizations apply for on an annual basis.

To make their endowment funds go further, agencies like the Vernon Jubilee Hospital Foundation, the Performing Arts Centre Society, as well as the Vernon Museum, hold them with the Foundation, taking advantage of the Foundation’s larger investment pools and better returns. By giving the money to the Foundation it meant that the Vernon Museum would receive an annual cheque for operating expenses while saving their capital. “It will free up time to put effort into education programs and displays,” says Museum Curator, Ron Candy, “those are the things we should be doing.”

- Former Curator Leaves Legacy to the Museum