Elsie Frances Shepherd of Woods Hole died November 12 at the age of 100.
The daughter of Elsie F. (Gardner) Cahoon and Samuel T. Cahoon, who owned Sam Cahoon’s Fish Market in Woods Hole from 1914 to 1962, she was born in the back room of the family home on School Street, the same house in which her mother and three siblings were born. She was known by her middle name.
Ms. Shepherd was one of three women who became centenarians and were featured in a book about the Woods Hole Woman’s Club written by Charlotte Emans Moore and published by the Woods Hole Historical Collection and Museum on the occasion of the club’s 100th year in 2014. The other two club members were Olive C. Beverly and Margaret Thackery Stone.
She attended Woods Hole Grammar School until the 8th grade, followed by Lawrence High School, and graduated in 1939. She studied at the Office Management School at Bryant College in Providence, then went to work at Falmouth National Bank.
She began working for her father in 1943 at the family fish market and remained until 1954. During that time she met Kenneth A. Shepherd, a fisherman from Martha’s Vineyard. They married in December 1950 at the Methodist Church on School Street.
For most of her working life, Ms. Shepherd was a bookkeeper. She worked in this capacity for her father, and also volunteered her services to organizations such as Waquoit Bay Yacht Club, for which she was treasurer for several years during the 1970s.
She also was hired by George Cadwalader, founder of the Penikese Island School. Mr. Cadwalader so admired Ms. Shepherd that he named his lobster boat The Franny Cahoon.
She continued to worked until her retirement in 1989, when she and her husband moved to Hancock, Maine. Her husband died in 2000. They had been married nearly 50 years. She later returned to Woods Hole to live in the house of her birth.
Ms. Shepherd had a love of history and genealogy was a member of the Falmouth Genealogical Society. She enjoyed tracing the Shepherd and Cahoon family trees, and took over the family genealogy on her mother’s side when her mother died.
She also was an avid writer of family and local history. Frank Chase was the pen name she used in the newsletters that she wrote to local servicemen during World War II. In her later years she wrote and sent out a monthly letter to “shut-ins” that told news of her family’s life in Woods Hole along with history of the village. This became so popular that she eventually had a distribution e-mail group as well.
She had a love of sailing and learned about it from her father and raced with him. Ms. Shepherd was a top contender in the Waquoit Bay Yacht Club races—she was said to race with sails that were patched by her husband and still win the races. She raced Mae Win, a Cape Cod Knockabout, in Woods Hole before moving to the Beetle Cat class when she lived on Seapit Road and raced the waters of Waquoit Bay. She was the SMYRA Class champion in 1941 in the CC Knockabout races.
Ms. Shepherd was a member of Church of the Messiah in Woods Hole, and a Past Matron and 75-year member of the Good Will Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star.
She leaves three children, Kenneth L. Shepherd of Edgartown, Cynthia S. Limberakis and her husband, James Limberakis, of Woods Hole and Daniel F. Shepherd and his wife, Denise Shepherd, of Waquoit; a stepson, Jared N. Grant and his wife, Sue Carroll, of Edgartown; three grandchildren, Dana Grant, Matthew J. Limberakis and Jillian R. Limberakis; two great-grandsons, Alexander Quintal and James M. Limberakis; and other family.
In addition to her husband, she was preceded in death by her granddaughter Malika D. Shepherd in 2016; and by her siblings, Cynthia C. Smith, Rebecca C. Ames and Samuel T. Cahoon Jr.
A funeral service was Wednesday, November 17, prior to burial at the Churchyard Cemetery on Church Street in Woods Hole.