Archetypes: Marilyn Sheperd
An interview with Marilyn Sheperd, vice president for development at Grand Center Inc. and St. Louis enthusiast.
What is your current frame of mind? Bring it on.
When and where are you happiest? At Christmas dinner with all of my family.
What is your favorite smell? White flowers.
What is one word that describes you? (Laughs) High-energy.
What did you eat for breakfast today? Peanut butter and whole blueberry sandwich.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? "Um," "Really?" and "Seriously?!"
What is your greatest weakness? I’m disorganized.
What trait do you most admire in others? People who have pursued and mastered a skill.
Who or what is the greatest love of your life? My husband. He is my rock and biggest fan, and I’m his.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I’d be a little more interested in math.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Twenty years ago, I started a ballet school in Chicago that is now 400 students.
Which living person do you most admire? Maya Angelou. She is so wise. Listening to her speak is like being under a down comforter on a cold night.
If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, who or what would it would be? I would come back as the person my fans think I am.
What is your most treasured possession? A pair of earrings my daughters gave me when they were 5 and 6 years old.
What is your greatest extravagance? I spend a ton of money on my hobby, needlepointing. I am an avid stitcher and spare no expense when it comes to canvases and threads.
What is your greatest fear? I am incredibly, irrationally, claustrophobic.
On what occasion do you lie? To spare someone’s feelings.
Who are your favorite writers? Irving Wallace, Sue Monk Kidd and Richard Wright.
Which artists do you admire most? Monet, Stevie Wonder, Keith Jarrett (the pianist) and my husband.
What is your favorite hobby? Gardening.
Where would you like to live? Right where I am; I love St. Louis.
What is your favorite journey? The journey I’m currently on. It’s stretching me beyond what I ever thought possible.
Who are your heroes in real life? My Aunt Henrietta. She was the first African-American woman in the 1920s to get her PhD in English from the University of Chicago, and she did her dissertation on Shakespeare and Chaucer—isn’t that amazing?
If you could have dinner with one person, dead or alive, who would it be? The singer Lena Horne.
Which historical figure do you most identify with? Jane Addams, an ardent feminist and the founder of the Hull House in Chicago. She was way ahead of her time.
What are you most looking forward to? Seeing my two daughters continue to blossom.
What is one thing you wish would happen? I wish we could figure out a way for people of different races to peacefully coexist.
What is something you still want to learn? Speed reading.
In another life, you’d be? A butterfly; I’d love to come back as a work of art.
What is one thing you want to do before you die? I want to go to Australia.
If you could say something to your younger self, what would it be? Moisturize.