Today Mayor Zack Tucker signed a proclamation ordering the Flag of the City of Monticello in memory of former County Judge Rita Shepherd who passed away today. The City Flag will remain at half-staff until the day of Ms. Shepherd's funeral on September 18, 2015.
"Rita Shepherd was a dedicated public servant of Drew County. As County Judge and later as board member of the Southeast Arkansas Intermodal Facility Authority, said Mayor Zack Tucker. "Even in the thick of her illness, Ms. Rita made an effort to attended Intermodal meetings to ensure Drew County was properly represented on the board. Her service will be forever missed and remembered; and the I will be eternally grateful for her leadership, friendship, and compassion for the community."
In 1981, she was appointed Lincoln County Judge to fill out the term of her late husband who died in office. She then ran for that office in her own right and was elected to serve two more terms, becoming the first and so far only elected female County Judge of Lincoln County. After relocating to Drew County, she was elected to two terms there, making her the first and so far only person in Arkansas history to serve as County Judge in two different counties.
Throughout her years in public service, she served on various boards and committees aimed at improving the lives of the citizens in Southeast Arkansas. Most recently she served on the Southeast Arkansas Intermodal Facility board and always enjoyed working to improve the economic opportunities for the region. During her time as Drew County Judge, she helped create a substance abuse center known as “New Beginnings” to help people with drug and alcohol abuse issues. When she left office, she became its Executive Director. She gave the next ten years of her life to that effort until her battle with cancer forced her to retire. Within a year cancer took her life, but it never took her unbreakable spirit.
Visitation will be from 6 pm to 8 pm Thursday at Griffin Funeral Service in Star City. Funeral will be at 10 am Friday at the funeral home, with graveside service following at Rock Springs Cemetery in Drew County. Memorials may be made to Rock Springs United Methodist Church, the American Cancer Society, the Red Cross, or the charity of your choice.