Deacon John J. Shepard, who served at St. Mary's in Washingtonville, died Oct. 12 while attending Mass in San Francisco, where he was vacationing. He was 72. Retiring as a school principal in 1995, he was ordained to the diaconate in 1997 and continued to serve his home parish and as president of the Orange County Vicariate Council. At St. Mary's, he was a lector, Eucharistic minister and teacher in the confirmation program. He was the first president of the parish council and served on the building committee for the parish center. In addition, the children of the parish eagerly awaited his arrival in a helicopter as Santa Claus each year. Deacon Shepard started his career in education as a Holy Cross Brother. He entered the brothers' novitiate in 1953 and did his formation at the University of Notre Dame, 1954-1956. He was assigned to Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish in the Bronx in 1956, where he served as a teacher until 1961 while completing his undergraduate studies at Fordham University. He returned to Our Lady of Mount Carmel School in 1967, serving until 1970 as principal of the boys division and superior of the brothers' community there. He was dispensed from his vows as a brother in 1972. After leaving the Brothers, he served in the Cornwall Central School District as middle school principal for 25 years until his retirement. Born in Brooklyn, Deacon Shepard held master's degrees from Villanova University and from the Institute for Religious Studies at St. Joseph's Seminary, Dunwoodie. Surviving is his wife, Helene; a son, Allen; a brother, Arthur; and a sister, Cathy McCloskey. A son, Patrick, predeceased him. A Funeral Mass was offered Oct. 18 at St. Mary's by Msgr. John Keaveney, the pastor. Burial was in the parish cemetery.