Arrow-right Camera
Go to e-Edition Sign up for newsletters Customer service
Subscribe now

This column reflects the opinion of the writer. To learn about the differences between a news story and an opinion column, click here.

Opinion >  Column

Huckleberries: Farewell to a patriot’s patriot

D.F. Oliveria (SR)
D.F. Oliveria (SR)

Coeur d’Alene remembers native son Jim Shepperd was a patriot’s patriot.

Before his death at age 90 in February 2017, Jim was a fixture among the vets at myriad parades and remembrances. He served the Veterans of Foreign Wars through the decades in various official capacities. Memorial Day would find him planting flags on the graves of fellow veterans.

So it should come as no surprise that the World War II veteran defended flag and country on home turf 50 years ago during the divisive Vietnam War. On April 26, 1968, Shepperd was the VFW’s Idaho Americanism chairman. And he was bugged. In a letter to the Coeur d’Alene Press, Shepperd wrote: “A fellow can become quite concerned when in every paper and magazine we read so much about draft card burning and young men slipping over the border avoiding their obligations to propitiate the freedom that we now enjoy.”

Jim had walked the patriotic talk 24 years before, in 1944, when he joined the Navy immediately after graduating from high school.

A swell colleague

I’ve had the privilege to work with terrific editors, reporters and photojournalists during my 47 years as a newspaperman. They shared a commitment to hard work, fairness and attention to detail. Many have retired. One who has not is Betsy Russell, a longtime colleague and friend who provides the best news coverage of politics in the far-flung state of Idaho. This, while promoting her craft as longtime president of the Idaho Press Club. Before she left the S-R’s Coeur d’Alene bureau for Boise in 1995, I predicted that she would become an Idaho media star, given her passion for our craft and the bigger stage offered by the state Capitol. She has done that. Her Eye on Boise blog and Statehouse reporting are must-reads for political junkies. On May 7, she’ll leave the S-R to cover the same beat for the Idaho Press-Tribune of Nampa. She’ll continue to represent journalism at its best.


Bridgett Helstrom Lowry, of Coeur d’Alene, calculates the difference between a routine visit to Costco and a crazy one to be about two minutes. She was approaching the checkout stand Tuesday evening when fire alarms sounded. She and the many other customers were immediately evacuated and couldn’t get back to their goods for 90 minutes … Among the five books that the Coeur d’Alene Library displayed after the death of outdoor humorist Patrick McManus two weeks ago: “Real Ponies Don’t Go Oink!” “Never Sniff A Gift Fish” and “They Shoot Canoes, Don’t They?” Talented McManus may be gone. But the joy he brought into the world lives on … Poet’s Corner: In warm April sun/ while birds sweetly sing,/ there – on that tulip –/ the first slug of spring – Tom Wobker, The Bard of Sherman Avenue (“Spring Is Now Official”) … Bumpersnicker (on a metallic-blue RAV-4 in the Coeur d’Alene Library parking lot): “Non-Judgment Day Is Near” … More knock-offs of the 5-year-old “Black Lives Matter” movement, spotted around Coeur d’Alene: “Veterans Lives Matter” (on bumper of white Tacoma pickup with Disabled Veterans’ plate) and “Black Guns Matter” (on a van with silhouetted AK-47 and a “Don’t Tread on Me” sticker) … Readerboard (at First Church of Christ in Dalton Gardens): “No fake news here, only good news of Jesus Christ” … Along the same lines, Shanay Wachtel, of Spokane, tells Huckleberries about the bumpersnicker she spotted on Freya Street: “Do you follow Jesus this closely?”

Parting shot

Philadelphia may be the “City of Brotherly Love.” But Kellogg? Not so much, according to Sgt. Paul Twidt’s Roll Call report. Kellogg’s gendarmes found two combative siblings separated when they arrived to investigate a recent 911 call. Seems one brother had angered another by throwing cereal all over the latter’s room. The miffed party responded by banging his sib over the head with a wrench. Not exactly quid pro quo. Sums up Sgt Twidt: “Now this might sound like young kids and even teen brothers, but no – both well over 50.” Just goes to show that some people never grow up.

D.F. “Dave” Oliveria can be reached at

More from this author