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Shepherd Center co-founder dies at 90

A co-founder of the Shepherd Center died “peacefully” Monday morning, the hospital confirmed.

James Harold Shepherd Sr., 90, was a fourth-generation Atlantan who helped found the private nonprofit hospital that specializes in spinal cord injury treatment and research, hospital spokeswoman Jane Sanders said in a news release.

Shepherd, who had five siblings, started Shepherd Construction Company with his brothers, and his family oversaw the construction of hundreds of miles of interstate highways in Georgia and several surrounding states in addition to thousands of miles of city and county streets since 1949, the release said.

In 1973, Harold’s son James sustained a spinal cord injury in a bodysurfing accident, which helped motivate him to found the Shepherd Center along with his wife, Alana, James and Dr. David F. Apple Jr., the release said. The center opened in 1975. 

“He wanted to be here, talk to people, to be around the hospital and watch as it grew,” said Julie Shepherd, his granddaughter, who is a case manager at Shepherd Center. “He often talked about how proud he was of Shepherd Center. His construction career had been rewarding in one way, but he was even prouder of what they’d done here (at the hospital) and the lives they’d changed.”

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The Georgia General Assembly unanimously approved a resolution to designate a section of Peachtree Road in Buckhead to be renamed J. Harold Shepherd Parkway.

A memorial service will be held at 2:30 p.m. Thursday at Peachtree Presbyterian Church at 3434 Roswell Road. 

Read and sign the online guestbook for J. Harold Shepherd Sr.

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