Lee W. Shoemaker
As a “Konkrete Kid” in Northampton, PA, an art teacher–frustrated when a young Lee W. Shoemaker refused to measure a project–told Lee that he would only finish that assignment “by gosh or by golly.” This mantra was how Lee lived his life.
Born to parents Lee S. Shoemaker and Charlotte S. Shoemaker, Lee and his younger sister Nancy grew up in the shadow of the Atlas Cement Company. As a young boy, Lee and his father entered their names in a raffle at a local fair. The winning name picked was Lee Shoemaker, and his father, bearing the same moniker, took the prize. Since that occasion, Lee’s signature included the distinct initial “W”.
After several odd jobs around Northampton, including working for Atlas, Lee decided to pursue a teaching degree at Millersville College. Always good with his hands and with a natural gift for creativity, Lee took to woodworking and earned his education degree in Industrial Arts. While working in the mess hall, Lee met and eventually married the love of his life, Elizabeth “Betty” Shoemaker (nee) O’Brien. In 1975, Lee began a lifelong project of building a home for his family. After 48 years it is almost finished. In this home, surrounded by nature, Lee and Betty raised identical twins, Brady J. Shoemaker and Brien L. Shoemaker, and later a daughter, Margaret S. Mills. Friends of Lee’s children remember him as funny and thoughtful and the house he built often acted as a second home to many of them.
Travel was a passion for Lee, and whether he was traveling with his college friends to kayak the Snake River or driving his family across the country, Lee always took time to enjoy the wilderness. Hiking with his daughter and the Moleskin Mountaineers or with his sons in the Boy Scouts, Lee taught the skills of camping, fishing, and hiking to new generations. He has been to all 50 states and six continents with Betty, only missing Antarctica because it’s too cold.
If you were to ask Lee about his friends, he would have remarked that he didn’t have many. Of course, this was not the case. Lee valued his friendships and each one was meaningful. Reservations for Shoebop, trips with several close families, or traveling with the guys to ballparks, Lee created lasting memories with great friends.
It was in his 35 years of teaching that Lee made his mark on this earth, providing meaningful instruction to hundreds of students. Regardless of age, everyone who met Lee learned something valuable. He led by quiet example, with patience, kindness, and caring. Lee’s impact was made not only through his creative works, but also the lessons carried by everyone that crossed his path.
Lee is with us every time we sharpen our tools, build a bat box, or recycle our plastic. He will be with us as we hike through the woods, bike the trails, or canoe down the river. He will be with us when we teach our grandchildren a new skill, and read the plaques in every museum; he will be there to listen to our stories. He is with us in every way he touched our lives.
Relatives and friends are invited to Lee’s Memorial Service, Saturday August 19, 2023. The service will begin at 11:30 am at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, 107 W. Lincoln Ave., Telford, PA 18969. In lieu of flowers contributions in Lee’s name may be made to the American Cancer Society, 1626 Locust St., Philadelphia, PA 19103.