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Obituary of John Shoemaker – Gainesville, FL

John “Jack” Francis Shoemaker was born on October 7, 1925 in Mont Clare, PA and passed away on March 2, 2021 in Gainesville, FL. His parents were Paul Shoemaker and Anna Meklos Shoemaker of Phoenixville, PA. Jack was a widower (Frances) and had four children: Rick Shoemaker, Suzanne Shoemaker Hill (deceased), Tom Shoemaker and Sally Shoemaker Scott (Randy). His grandchildren are Rebecca Hill Turner (Wade), Kate Hill Russell (Josh), Zack Scott, Austin Scott and Ben Scott. His great-grandchildren are Logan Turner, Blake Turner (deceased), Ryleigh Turner, Savannah Russell and Kennedy Russell. His siblings are Paul “Lefty” Shoemaker (Helen) and Patricia Gnias (Dan), along with niece Judy Krassowki, and nephews Paul Shoemaker (Nancy), Daniel Gnias (deceased), David Gnias (Cindy) and Dennis Gnias (Beth ). Jack grew up during the Depression which affected his views on saving money and decided to join the military after high school. He was a staff sergeant in World War II with the 87th Infantry and received a Purple Heart during the Battle of the Bulge. He also received a Bronze Star for Valor during the Rhineland Campaign. Jack always wondered why he survived the war when so many did not, which led him to appreciate the life he was given and live it well. After the military, he attended UF on the GI Bill and was active with Sigma Nu, Florida Blue Key and many other organizations. A highlight was his editorship at the Florida Alligator, which sparked his lifelong interest in journalism and writing, including serving as a sportswriter for the Florida Freshwater and Game Commission and writing his life story that is cherished by family and friends. His first job out of college was publicity director for the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville. Jack then moved to Tallahassee, where he worked for the State Legislature and then the Florida Outdoor Writers Association. In Tallahassee, Jack met Frances White and they soon married. After starting a family, he and Fran decided he would attend law school at age 40, and he subsequently graduated from Cumberland School of Law. He was very proud of his time in the military and a highlight was making an honor flight to Washington, DC in 2013. He worked hard to provide for his family and raised his children in Tallahassee with his wife Fran. Jack was very generous with his time and resources and was very active in many organizations. He enjoyed gardening after his retirement from the Florida State Department of Agriculture and enjoyed sharing many vegetables with family and friends each year. Jack’s Catholic faith was very important to him and he was a long-time, very involved member of the Catholic Church of the Blessed Sacrament, where he was a 4th Degree and Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus. He was very active in the men’s group and always counted on selling the most fundraising tickets at each event. He always had a smile on his face and had many friends. Many counted on Jack to “get things done and done well.” Being involved in Boy Scouts as a youth and as an adult leader was very important to him, noting the many skills he learned that helped him in combat and in life. Another highlight was the visit to Philmont with his son Tom. He lived life to the fullest and enjoyed time on the golf course with his many golfing friends, going to many Gator games, spending time at Alligator Point with family and friends and traveling the world whenever he could. Some of his favorite trips were to Hawaii, Australia, Ireland, Italy, Scandinavia and China. He taught his children and grandchildren many life lessons and always made time to share a story or lesson he had learned. He moved to Gainesville in 2018 to be closer to his daughter Sally and her family. He will be remembered and missed by many. A Catholic Mass will take place on March 20, 2021 at 11:00 am at the Catholic Church of the Blessed Sacrament. In-person attendance will be permitted at 50% capacity with masks and the service will also be streamed via www.culleysmeadowwood.com.