ALBANY – Priscilla (Jill) Shepard Belser passed away on Sunday, August 28th at her home in Albany, NY. Born August 12, 1943, in Xenia, Ohio, Jill was the oldest child of John and Suzanne Shepard. She spent most of her early life in California, moving to upstate New York with her family in 1960, graduating from Saratoga High School in 1961. She married in 1962, and raised three children, living in Lexington, Kentucky, and later in Saratoga Springs.
Jill helped to establish the Rape Crisis Hotline in Saratoga Springs in the 1970’s, and later worked for many years at Four Winds Psychiatric Center. She earned a BA degree from Empire State College with concentrations in Psychology and Sociology.
Her enthusiasm for food and cooking led her to establish FE Bunter Greengrocer in Saratoga the early 1980’s, and she was a skilled cook, with a special interest in the food of southern India.
Jill had a keen intellect, and was an avid reader and puzzle solver. Conversations with Jill were full of fresh perspectives and questions, and lightened by her wit and humor. Friends and family will miss the honesty, wisdom, and generosity that guided her in her own life, as well as in her role as supporter and problem-solver for the people she cared about.
Pre-deceased by her father in 1980, her mother in 2010, and her husband Joseph Belser in 1999, Jill is survived by her sons Peter and Michael Burbank, her daughter Kathy Burbank, her son-in-law Steve Wacksman, and her grandchildren Michaela, Zack, Conner, Madison, and Allison. She is also survived by her sisters Margie Shepard, Judy Waldera (Tom), and Rebecca Shepard (John Battenfield), and her brother John Shepard (Eileen).
Jill volunteered as a bereavement counselor with Hospice, and was a Hospice patient through the last eight months of her life. Her family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in her name to Community Hospice of Albany at 445 New Karner Road, Albany, NY, 12205. There will be a private service at a later date. To leave a message of condolence for the family, please visit www.HansFuneralHome.com.
Rebecca and Family – Although I did not know Jill very well, she seems like a person that I would have enjoyed very much.
My condolences to all of you.
I was so sorry to read of Jill’s passing. Jil was a classy lady and we at Hope Club admired her grace as she entered this final phase. She was thrilled when Peter and Michael returned from Arizona and she had her family, with Kathy, with her. She had great strength and we all hope we can emulate her. You all will be in my thoughts, as Jill is.
Jill’s passing leaves an empty place in the world. I met her at our (HopeClub) support group and came to call her “Lady Grace. She was such a beautiful soul and will be missed.
My condolences to her wonderful family.
Jill was a caring, compassionate, dedicated bereavement volunteer for Community Hospice of Saratoga. I so enjoyed her presence as she came into hospice weekly to make supportive calls to grieving family members. She would also make contacts from home on evenings and week-ends as she attempted to reach our families. She was most generous with her time and talents. Cheryl, Joanne, Mary Beth and I enjoyed many special lunches together with Jill. Those were special moments in our lives. My condolences and those of the Saratoga Hospice team
to her family.
Tamarra (Tammy Millis) Chambers
To the Shepard Family,
I met Jill several times as a teenager and young adult, and was always impressed that Rebecca (AKA Laurie) had such a grown-up sibling. What a blessing to have had an older sister with such diverse interests and depth of character. We can look to Jill’s choice, courage, and compassion to involve herself with families at the the most difficult and painful stage of life as an inspiration to step out of our own tunnel vision lives. The description of her life certainly has made me think.
I knew Jill from Hope Club, and thought she was one of the bravest people I have ever met. I enjoyed talking with her and was surprised when I sent her a hand-written note only several weeks before her death, she answered with the same. That takes a special person to expend that much effort at that point in her life.
I only wish I had known her in her healthy years. My condolences to your family.
Eric A. Seitz
Jill was my closest friend and confidant in high school for several years before her family left California and moved to Saratoga Springs. Although we attended different schools Jill and I spoke on the telephone nearly every day, and she was like a sister to me. We’ve had no contact for over fifty years, and until I came across her obituary I did not know what had happened to her. I’m sad that we cannot reconnect, but I am happy to learn about the kind of work she did, the children she raised, and the productive life she led. I send my warmest regards to her family and friends.