Robert E. Shepherd, commerce trade negotiator

December 13, 2012

Robert E. Shepherd, 85, a trade negotiator and former counselor to the office of the U.S. trade representative during four presidential administrations, died Nov. 7 at a hospital in St. Petersburg, Fla., after a car accident that day. The death was confirmed by his daughter, Laura Shepherd.

According to police in St. Petersburg, Mr. Shepherd was turning into traffic and collided with another vehicle. He and two of his passengers were taken to a local hospital. One of the passengers is still in critical condition.

Mr. Shepherd, who moved to St. Petersburg from Arlington County in 1994, had petitioned state Department of Transportation officials for a stoplight at the same intersection several years before his death, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

From 1979 until his retirement in 1994, Mr. Shepherd was a minister-counselor at the office of the U.S. Trade Representative. He served in Washington and for an extended period in Geneva, where he helped negotiate textile issues in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.

Robert Earl Shepherd was a native of Garden City, Kan., and was an aviation electronic technician in the Navy from 1945 to 1946. He was a 1950 history graduate of the University of Iowa. He was a Rhodes scholar and studied from 1951 to 1953 at St. John’s College at the University of Oxford in England.

Mr. Shepherd began his government career in the mid-1950s at the U.S. European Command Headquarters in France. He joined the Commerce Department in 1969 and directed the Office of Emergency Preparedness from 1973 to 1976. He briefly ran the department’s office of textiles and apparel in the late 1970s.

In Florida, he was a member of the Academy of Senior Professionals at Eckerd College.

His memberships included the Cosmos Club and the Association of American Rhodes Scholars.

Survivors include his wife of 54 years, Nena Barr Shepherd of St. Petersburg; two children, Chris Shepherd of Geneva and Laura Shepherd of Fredericksburg; and three granddaughters.

— Megan McDonough