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Praise 92.1 sends out our condolences to the family of Ms. Beulah Shepard and we ask you to keep them in your prayers.

Beulah Shepard, a small-town girl whose candid conviction and influence were sought for decades by political candidates for local and state office and even the White House, died Saturday. She was 89.

Shepard, a bold Democrat who moved to Houston from Louisiana nearly 60 years ago, was often called the unofficial “Mayor of Acres Homes.”

She was a woman of guts, purpose and presence, said state Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston.

Shepard, a passionate believer in the power of the vote, often said what others wouldn’t.

“If she thought it, she said it. She was direct,” Turner said, laughing. “That was Beulah Shepard. You didn’t have to guess what she was thinking. She loved politics, she loved the process and she loved participating in the process. If you sought political office, you sought her out. She had the power.”

Met presidents

Over the years, Shepard enjoyed 24-hour access to Texas governors and other state and local politicians, and was invited to the White House a few times, meeting at least a handful of presidents, including John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.

When Gary Hart kicked off his presidential campaign, he flew to Houston to rally support, landing his helicopter in the parking lot at Galilee Missionary Baptist Church in Acres Homes, where Shepard was a member for some 50 years, said her sister, Diane Shepard.

“He came to meet Beulah,” she said.

Shepard, who worked as a constituent liaison for former Harris County Commissioner Squatty Lyons for some 20 years and then Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston for about 10, was gifted at reading people and politics at play.

Turner’s first — and unsolicited – nudge to run for state office came from Shepard in the late ’80s.

Someone at a political gathering wished him well in his race for state District 139, attributing the information to Shepard.

The only thing: Turner, who grew up in Acres Homes and was familiar with Shepard’s political work, hadn’t as much as thought about running for the seat.

“I told her, ‘Ms. Shepard, I have no interest in running. To which she replied, ‘You have no idea what you’re interested in.’ She was literally the one who put the idea in my head,’ ” he said.

Therein began a close relationship between the two. Turner and family members said Shepard was most passionate about the vote.

“She knew the value of the vote because she had been denied the right to vote,” Turner said.

Cared about people

Shepard moved to Acres Homes from her hometown of Plain Dealing, La., in 1948, landed a job as a clerk at a grocery and got involved in the political scene immediately.

Diane Shepard said he sister always connected with people and cared about their futures.

“When people talked about what they wanted to do, she always said, ‘If that’s what you want to do, you go to the bottom of your stomach and pull it out.’ That’s what Beulah did. She went to the bottom of her stomach, and she pulled out politics.”

Shepard’s survivors include seven children, 30 grandchildren, 24 great-grandchildren and 10 great-great children.

Her wake will be from 6-9 p.m. Thursday at Galilee Missionary Baptist Church. The funeral service will be there at 11 a.m. Friday.