Road sign for Renaissance man
DUSHORE – On November 1, 2019, the day that would have been the 98th birthday of T. W. “Doc” Shoemaker, an event honoring him was held. It was the announcement that Doc’s name was on a sign being placed along the Route 220 Highway along the section connecting Dushore with Bradford County.
The Shoemaker family, members of the community as well as state and local dignitaries, gathered at the fire hall in Dushore.
“He (Doc) was a true renaissance man,” said Russell Redding, Pennsylvania State Agriculture of Secretary since 2015. He noted that,”His (Doc’s) is the first sign ceremony to which I’ve been invited and it’s due to the world of agriculture which was Doc’s life.” The two met at Sullivan County fairs. “This is a great moment to pause, he was an amazing mentor. No one embodied the connection between science and civics as Doc did. The late veterinarian made the link between animal and human health brings to mind the saying, ‘All creatures great and small,'” Redding said.
Tina Picket, State Representative of the 110th District said, “He was ingrained into the community and seemed always to be highlighting Sullivan County’s attributes. He created the first tourism magazine and attended annual meetings of the state tourism bureau. We went in a group of four, split up after arrival randomly asking attendees if they knew the location of the Endless Mountains. It was considered good if we had five correct responses. As annual meetings went on, the numbers grew of those recognizing the area. He was a great promoter.”
Marty Denmon, Doc’s 14-year assistant gave up-close and personal accounts to the crowd. “At first I rode with him before becoming the chauffeur. We delivered the “Sully” down into parts of eastern Lycoming County stopping at Fox’s Restaurant. Often riding along was Doc’s buddy, Norm Taylor.”
Denmon added that some destinations included the Farm Show, Ag Day in Susquehanna County and his booth at the Sullivan County Fair. In his veterinarian duties, he insisted on going to the animals instead of being brought to the office. “Doc always had his camera as we ventured into places nearly void of roadways between rocky ledges and cliffs. There could be no better way to honor Doc’s memory, he loved being on the road,” Denmon said.
Tom Shoemaker spoke for his brothers and sister in giving their dad’s brief bio. “The opportunity for a veterinarian business here began in 1950. Here he and (wife) ‘Stevie’ raised six children, and were active in school and community activities. In 1966, he took over the ‘Sullivan Review’ after learning the Towanda Printing Company planned to shut it down. Originally from the Wyoming and Lackawanna valleys, our parent’s legacy is here. They loved Dushore.”
Interviews of three individuals in attendance gleaned the following: Daughter Sarah Shoemaker Jensen recounted the short term ownership of The Luminary. “From 1988 into 1990 my father assigned me manager of The Muncy Luminary. In those days after assembling the paper, I drove to Milton to have it printed,” Sarah said. Currently, she now lives in her parent’s house where she grew up. “Dushore is a great community, a good place to be,” she said.
Edmund Thall who resides four mile out of Dushore said, “He (Doc) was a good man, kind to everybody especially animals. In about 1960, he was my science teacher at Turnpike Middle School. Over the years, we took our animals to him.”
Carol Ritter Mordan, retired Picture Rocks elementary teacher and along with husband Lloyd, residents of Nordmont said, “Of all the people I’ve had the pleasure of knowing, Doc Shoemaker was one of the most interesting, generous and remarkable. He was like a library of knowledge, adored by his community.”
Mordan continued, “An excellent vet, he shared home remedies that worked just as well as an expensive prescription medicine. One of my favorite memories was when I had a miniature goat in labor in serious trouble on a Saturday afternoon, I called him in desperation since emergency vets refused to come and none had Saturday afternoon hours. Doc came to the rescue and performed a Cesarean surgery on the little goat. That’s the kind of blessing he was to many.”
Concluding, Mordan said, “Often the pets had their pictures in the Sully the next week so others could share the joy of recovery. Doc was truly amazing.”
A commissioner, teacher, newspaper owner, author of a book titled The Satterfield Flyer, photo journalist, fire company member, community leader, husband, father and much, much, more, dubbing Doc Shoemaker as a Renaissance man is an appropriate description. Viewing his name on signage along the 220 roadway is sure to bring back fond memories to many.