Valerie Mrozinski Sheppard (Ed.D. ’88)

Valerie Mrozinski Sheppard
02/14/1944 – 05/23/2024
Valerie Mrozinski Sheppard lived life with zest and faith, loved deeply, and faced the mystery of death resolutely at home on May 23, 2024.

Born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, February 14, 1944, Valerie moved to Dallas at the age of four with her parents Frank and Anna Mrozinski, and older sister Pat. In Dallas, she attended St. James Catholic Church and School through grade eight. Her parish priest was like a member of the family. She regularly rode the city bus downtown starting at age eight to take piano lessons. Valerie attended Our Lady of Good Counsel High School (now Bishop Dunn High School) where she excelled at piano and debate. At the age of 16, she confided to her diary that at a debate tournament she had met a very interesting young debater, Ben Sheppard.

Valerie earned her BA in Education from North Texas State University in three years and then married that same Ben Sheppard in January before graduation. That summer, she and Ben moved to Virginia where he was selling bibles to earn money for law school. The couple moved to Austin where Valerie taught first grade in a public school. When she became pregnant, her employer told her she could not teach the following year. So a devastated Valerie was at the laundromat where she met a very nice woman who offered her not only a teaching job in first grade, but also to be her personal babysitter. Val was surprised when she learned the woman who “hired her” was the priest’s mother at Sacred Heart Catholic Church and School. She taught there until Ben finished law school and served a clerkship before the family moved to Houston.

Valerie and Ben had two children, son Paul and daughter Suzanne. Valerie could multi-task very well – she earned her MA and EdD from the University of Houston in 1989. While in graduate school she published her first book, Carnival of Language Fun.

In addition to being a mother to Paul and Suzanne and pursuing postgraduate studies, she nurtured and grew a successful career in education. She was the Reading Specialist for three years at St. Peter the Apostle Catholic School. She also worked 20 years for Fort Bend ISD as the Language Arts Coordinator, then the Director of Secondary Education, then the Director of K12 Curriculum and Staff Development. During her tenure, she helped open several new schools every year in a rapidly growing school district. She was also a Fullbright Scholar, studying in Japan.

In her spare time, Valerie taught postgraduate courses at the University of Houston – Victoria, Houston Baptist University, and the University of St. Thomas. After her well-earned retirement, two close friends showed up at her door and recruited her for Region 4 Education Service Center as a Field Supervisor for teachers working towards an alternative certification.

Valerie was very involved in her church community at St. Anne Catholic Church. She joined the Guild in 2011 where she served as Guild Vice President and co-chaired the Membership Newsletter and Community Service Committees. She was also involved on the Care Team and the Prayer Shawl Ministry. Valerie treasured working with such bright and accomplished women and giving back to the community. In addition to her work with St. Anne, Valerie enjoyed reading, playing (and winning at) bridge, sailing, crocheting, and walking her dog Sparky. She enjoyed lively political discussion, mischievous fun, and the company of people of all ages and walks of life.

Valerie passed away peacefully on May 23, 2024. Valerie was predeceased by her beloved husband, Benjamin H. Sheppard, Jr. She is survived by her children, Paul Sheppard and his wife Joanne, Suzanne Funk-Sheppard and her husband Malte, her sister Pat DeRosia, her grandchildren Jacob, Toby, and Katie, and many good friends and neighbors.

Funeral Mass will be held Tuesday, May 28, at 2pm at St. Anne Catholic Church (2140 Westheimer Road, Houston, TX 77098) with reception to follow.

Published by Houston Chronicle on May 26, 2024.

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