Education took hold of Dr. Genevieve A. Shepherd at a very young age. When she was five-years-old, she announced to her friends playing school, “I’m the teacher and if you don’t let me teach, I’m going home!”
Her love for learning and instructing others only grew stronger as she prepared to pursue her goal at Los Angeles City College, even after a counselor recommended her against teaching. Undaunted, Genevieve said to herself, “Just watch and see.”
That resolve led to her to become a renowned educator in the Los Angeles Unified School District as well as a dedicated community activist in South L.A. Beginning her career as a teacher at Marianna Avenue Elementary School in East L.A., Genevieve retired after 57 years as principal of Tom Bradley Environmental Science and Humanities Charter Magnet School, a position she held for more than 30 years.
She inspired countless students, parents and everyone she encountered with affirming mottos such as “Anything a mind can conceive and then can believe, can be achieved,” “Go mad! Make a difference!” and “It is better to build children than to repair men and women.”
Genevieve’s life came to a close with her passing on Dec. 27, in Los Angeles. A longtime resident of Leimert Park, Genevieve was 84-years-old.
A celebration of her life was held Jan. 5 at the City of Refuge in Gardena. The officiants were Suffragan Bishop Gentry Richardson Jr., Bishop Robert Etheridge and Pastor Nisan Stewart. Bishop Noel Jones, City of Refuge pastor, delivered the eulogy.
A native of Los Angeles, Genevieve was born on Dec. 1, 1934 to Mays and Geneva Andrews. Her father passed in 1941 and her mother later married Bishop William L. Smith, the founder of Bethlehem Temple Church in Los Angeles.
Her education includes an Associate of Arts degree from L.A. City College, Bachelor’s degree from California State College, Master’s of Science degree from Pepperdine University and a Doctor of Philosophy from Golden State University.
Genevieve was the recipient of several awards such as Distinguished Educator of the Year from California State University – L.A., Influential African American award from the National Action Network, Courage, Compassion and Conviction award from the National Media Women and the Outstanding Educator award from Interchange for Community Action.
In recognition of her accomplishments, the Los Angeles City Council designated the intersection of Dublin Avenue and 39th Street as “Dr. Genevieve Shepherd Square.”
A woman of strong faith, Genevieve accepted Christ at the age of 4 and was actively involved in her church. She served as corporate secretary, Sunday School superintendent, Christian Education advisor, trustee and in many other capacities at Bethlehem Temple.
Her husband of 52 years, Elder Edell Shepherd, as well as her parents, four brothers and two sisters preceded Genevieve in death.
Cherishing her memory are her children Edell (Star), Deborah (Michael) Blanchette, and Jamie; three grandchildren, three great grandchildren, sister, Rita Mae (Euland) Grier, and many family and friends.