Robert Randlett “Randy” Shepard, Sr., 65, a resident of Covington since 2002, died Tuesday evening, Sept. 29, 2020, at Piedmont Newton Hospital. Mr. Shepard was born Sept. 27, 1955 in Queens, New York City and grew up in Armonk, Westchester County, NY for most of his adolescence, before moving with his family to Talbotton, Georgia. He left Talbotton to attend college at Tufts University, where he was part of the nationally-renowned Tufts acapella group, the Tufts Beelzububs. After college, Randy spent time working for magazine companies in New York City, before moving to Atlanta to work in advertising. During his time in Atlanta, Randy met and married Catherine Lynne Askew (afterwards, Lynne Askew Shepard), with whom he had two children, Robert Randlett “Robbie” Shepard, Jr., born 1987, and Laura Ruth Shepard, born 1990. Shortly after the birth of his son, Mr. Shepard took a job at the advertising agency J. Walter Thompson, where he would spend the next 31 years of his career. Later in life, Randy moved to Covington to be nearer to his beloved mother, Jane Spivey Shepard, a well-known Covington fixture and member of the Covington Women’s Club, who he considered the most important influence on his life.
Widely considered a creative and strategic genius, Mr. Shepard’s insights were critical to the success and maintenance of the United States Marine Corps account at JWT. His incredible flair for the written word and ability to see multiple steps ahead allowed JWT to maintain a successful USMC ad campaign for much of his time there. He would frequently make business trips to the Pentagon, Parris Island, Camp Lejeune, and Quantico; he was also invited to meet with presidential advisors at the White House, where he presented his strategic military recruitment work with Harvard University professors. His advertising excellence won him a WPP Atticus Award, presented to him personally by Sir Martin Sorrell in England in 1999. In his later years with JWT, Randy’s USMC ad campaign, Battles Won, received widespread acclaim in advertising circles for its bold new approach to recruitment strategy, and his article “How the U.S. Marines Brought Rambo and Bono Together (and Why)” won him a Jay Chiat Gold award for Innovation in Research Strategy. He is perhaps most famous in the advertising world, however, for the 1998 television commercial “Rite of Passage,” more widely known as the USMC lava monster commercial.
In addition to his ingenuity and creative talents, Randy had a magnificent sense of humor. His quick wit, comedic timing, and ability to relate to others made him someone who always lit up a room. Randy was who you wanted around at any social gathering and who you wanted to speak to in hard times. The laughter he brought to those around him made him a cherished colleague, friend, and father. His qualities truly put him among the “few and the proud,” and he was always faithful to his friends and family.
Randy was dearly loved by his two children, both of whom he supported throughout his life in their pursuits. He was never wanting in his praise, love, and admiration for his children; he was also never found in lack of a witty turn of phrase or adroit quip to dispense to them. His daughter, Laura, inherited his love of New York City, where she began a career in comedy at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, taught space science education to youth from across the city, and pursued political activism. His son, Robbie, inherited Randy’s love of intellectual pursuits, and obtained a master’s degree at Randy’s alma mater, Tufts, and is currently a law student at Harvard Law School. Without Mr. Shepard’s beneficence, love, and devotion, none of these things would have been possible. Randy was also widely known to his colleagues as the funniest and smartest man they had ever met, able to bring merriment and vision to any conference call or boardroom meeting. Finally, Randy was known for his ample goodwill to his fellow man and strong political convictions towards helping others, lifelong convictions he inherited from his mom.
Randy leaves behind his two children, Laura and Robbie, as well as his former wife Lynne, beloved sister Beth, his nephews, Zachary and Tommy, and Laura’s dog Frida, whom he considered as a grandchild. He is preceded in death by his father, William Chipman Shepard, a decorated veteran of the Second World War, and his mother, Jane.
A visitation for Randy’s friends will be held at Caldwell & Cowan Funeral Home, 1215 Access Rd., P.O. Box 630, Covington, GA 30015, on Saturday, Oct. 3, from 5-7 p.m.. His funeral service will be held at Peachtree Road United Methodist Church at 3180 Peachtree Road, NE, Atlanta, GA 30305, on Monday, Oct. 5, starting at 11 a.m. Family burial to follow service.