Thomas W. H. “Doc” Shoemaker, Jr. V.M.D., passed away on Wednesday, May 2, 2018 at his home, surrounded by the love of his family. Doc served Sullivan County and nearby areas as veterinarian for nearly 70 years, and was Publisher Emeritus and the guiding force behind the Sullivan Review newspaper since 1966.
He was born in Wilkes-Barre on November 1, 1921, the second of three children to Thomas W. H. and Eleanor Nixon Shoemaker. He was married for nearly 67 years to Stefana H. “Stevie” Shoemaker, who predeceased him on February 6, 2012.
A 1939 graduate of West Pittston High School, he attended the Pennsylvania State University and graduated in December 1942 with a degree in Bacteriology. While at Penn State he played the piccolo in the famed Blue Band, when the football field was located adjacent to Rec Hall; in 1960 it was moved to its present location and enlarged to a capacity of 46,000.
Doc met Stevie in Binghamton, NY where they both worked for Ansco Film, a major supplier of photographic film to the War Department. They were married on June 9, 1945 at Washington Memorial Chapel in Valley Forge, PA.
He was drafted into the U.S. Navy on September 11, 1944 and was undergoing basic training at Bainbridge, MD when he responded to a call for chemists. He was transferred to the Naval Research Lab, where he was assigned to the Philadelphia Navy Yard. As a Specialist (X) Third Class, he worked on thermal diffusion of uranium isotopes for the top-secret Manhattan Project, which developed the world’s first atomic weapons.
He was discharged on March 21, 1946 and then attended veterinary school at the University of Pennsylvania utilizing the GI Bill, graduating in 1950.
The Shoemakers lived in Luzerne County after Doc completed veterinary school. They came to Sullivan County in 1952, primarily to doctor herds of the farmers who supplied the Dolly Madison ice cream plant in Dushore. Back in the 1950s everyone had at least a few cows: As the family farms disappeared, he began treating cats and dogs as well—with a specialization in pulling porcupine quills.
He and Stevie raised their family of six children—Tom, Mike, Steve, John, Jim, and Sally—at 120 Headley Avenue, actively participating in school and community activities. Doc was District veterinarian for the PA Department of Agriculture in 1960 and 1962. As district vet he primarily tested dairy herds for TB and Brucellosis (Bang’s disease). He also taught Biology and Chemistry at Cherry Twp. (Turnpike) High School in Mildred and then at the Sullivan County High School in Laporte for six years.
In 1966 the Towanda Printing Company was going to shut down the struggling Sullivan Review, which had been published since 1878. Doc and Stevie thought Sullivan County should have its own newspaper and they were supported in this by local business leaders, especially Bob and Catherine Lambert of Fitzpatrick & Lambert Ford, who have had an ad in every issue since. Doc was the lead writer, photographer, salesman, idea man and overall promoter of Sullivan County. His formula was lots of local photos and reports exclusively on Sullivan County. His biggest idea was the Tourist Guide, first published in 1967.
He was very active in the county community and helped in the formation of the PA Bowhunters Festival, re-establishment of the Sullivan County Chamber of Commerce, and inception of the Sullivan County Medical Center in Laporte along with Dr. Frederic Barth. He was a Sullivan County Commissioner from 1980 to 1984, and worked with Bob Getz, Bob Lambert, and Father Eugene Carr in the purchase of the land from the Diocese of Scranton for Sullivan Terrace in Dushore. As Commissioner he was involved with NY-PENN Health to build the Laporte United Methodist Home (now Highlands Care Center). He later was the facilitator that brought the Guthrie Clinic to the burned-out lot in Dushore Borough. He also served on Dushore Borough Council.
Doc was a 60 year member, former director, and past president of the Dushore Lions Club; a member of the Eagles Mere Country Club; a lifetime member of the Sullivan County Fair Association; a lifetime member of Loyalsock Post #996 American Legion; a member of the Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association; a member of the Pennsylvania Newsmedia Association; an integral part of the June Dairy Festival, especially the milking contest; and more recently involved in organizing Founder’s Day activities in Dushore Borough.
Doc is survived by six children and their spouses: Capt. Thomas W. Shoemaker (Janice), Muncy Valley; Dr. Michael E. Shoemaker (Debby), North Rose, NY; Dr. Stephen N. Shoemaker (Lizanne), Sugarloaf; John A. Shoemaker (Christine), Dushore; James S. Shoemaker (Anne), Houston, TX; Sarah Shoemaker Jensen (Richard), Dushore; 14 grandchildren: Tom, Peter, Meghan, Zach, Nichole, Stephen, Ian, Evan, Christian, John, Katie, Emily, Susannah, and Mark; three great-grandsons: Cameron, Tyler and Thomas V “Quintin”; three great-granddaughters: Rowan, Lucy and Abby; brother John (Natalie) Shoemaker of Wyoming; niece Judy (James) Smith of Washington, D.C. and of Swiftwater Cottage, Falls; and nephews Jack Shoemaker of Greensboro, NC; Jim Shoemaker of Wyoming; and Josh Shoemaker of Kingston; numerous cousins; and his white boxer, Layla.
In addition to his beloved wife Stevie, Doc was predeceased by a sister and her spouse, Martha (Jackson) Terry of Falls, and a sister-in-law and her spouse, Olga (Elton) Beavan of St. Simon’s Island, GA.
A private funeral service will be held Saturday, May 12 at P. Dean Homer Funeral Home, 206 Water St., Dushore, with his cousin Rev. Laura Jervis officiating.
A private graveside service at Zion Lutheran Cemetery will be held following the service with military honors accorded by members of Loyalsock Post 996 American Legion and U.S. Navy Honors Detail and Rev. Richard Rojas offering the committal. Legion members are asked to assemble and pass-in-review at 5 p.m. on Friday afternoon, May 11, 2018 at the funeral home.
Friends may call on Friday, May 11 from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the P. Dean Homer Funeral Home, 206 Water St., Dushore, PA.
Please send any memorial contributions in Doc’s name to the Dushore Fire and Ambulance Association, P.O. Box 1, Dushore PA 18614 or to Friends of the Sullivan County Library, P.O. Box 485, Dushore, PA 18614. The family will provide the flowers.
To send condolences or sign the e-guestbook please go to www.homerfuneralhome.com.
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