“Making the Most of Every Opportunity”
by David Webb, Western Area Manager (retired) now on the Board of NCBF
Growing up in Longview, a small community three miles west of Hickory, a young Wade Shepherd learned early in life the value of hard work. “My parents taught me right from wrong and took me to church,” Wade fondly recalls. At age three, he won an award for reading the Bible for another congregation. However, it was his experiences in Korea while serving in the Army that transformed his life forever.
Prior to being drafted into the Army and serving in Korea, he married his beloved Sophie and worked for five and a half years (his beloved Sophie passed away in 2004.) Seeing the living conditions of the people in Korea, he was broken hearted. He returned home and cleaned a considerable acreage of pine trees with an ax, trying to come to grips with his experiences and to find himself. He realized how thankful he should be and became determined to make the most of every opportunity.
Wade earned a business administration degree in three years while working at night to earn a living. When his employer was disposing of some old equipment, he bought the equipment, marking the beginning of a successful hosiery manufacturing business. His first major account was Kentucky Derby Finishing, who bought his socks to distribute to Dollar General Stores. His business flourished, and although he was as much as 26 weeks behind, he never lost an account.
A long-term member of Penelope Baptist Church in Hickory, Wade has served as a deacon most of his life including 20 to 25 years as chairman. He became the church’s treasurer at a young age of 28 and served in that capacity, or as a trustee or finance chairman, until about six years ago. Most Sundays you will find Wade serving as an usher and then having a seat by his dear friend Yvonne.
Wade has served on six different boards at Gardner-Webb University. Gardner-Webb recognized him as their NC Baptist Heritage Award winner, presented him an honorary doctorate, and in recent years, held a Wade Shepherd Day. He has a particular love for Gardner-Webb’s Divinity School and Fine Arts program.
Dr. Shepherd worked with the Foundation to establish a trust for his family and Gardner-Webb by placing his hosiery business, which he had owned and operated for 47 years, into a charitable trust. Before that, he established a trust with the sale of another business in South Carolina. The site where a segment of the popular movie “The Hunger Games” was filmed has been placed in yet another charitable trust.
Wade often shares with people how it took him a long time to understand how a charitable trust works. He is quick to add, “Once people understand it, they realize it is a good way to take care of your family and the causes you support.” He is quick to add, “You can’t out give God.”