Gary David Shoemaker, age 77, surrounded by family, passed away peacefully at home Thursday, August 1, 2019 in Cañon City, Colorado. He was born on June 2, 1942 to Fred Carl and Geraldine Alice (Wolfe) Shoemaker in Macon, Missouri. He grew up in Divide, Colorado, graduating from Woodland Park High School. He soon joined the United States Army, receiving the Good Conduct Medal for Military Service receiving and honorable discharge in 1966 at the rank of E5 Sergeant. In Gary went on to earn his formal education at the University of California National Sheriff’s Association School. He served over 20 years with the Teller County Sheriff’s Office. He received the American Federation of Police Silver Star for Bravery for his actions. Gary loved to Cowboy and spent many years as an active member of the Rodeo Cowboy’s Association. He enjoyed competitive and recreational shooting.
Gary developed an amazing arrowhead collection. He found them all over the place. Gary wasn’t just limited to finding arrowheads. He also had an amazing ability to find underground water. Gary became well-known and renowned. He was kind of a local celebrity. His success rate for finding underground water was at about 95%. Gary’s preferred method of dowsing for water was a fresh cut willow stick cut into a fork with a long 2 to 3 foot long “handle” on either side of the fork, and a 6” to 8″ tip at the bottom of the willow stick. He would walk with the willow stick tightly gripped in his hand. When he was over a strong water stream, the stick would turn in his hands and the tip of the stick would be directly over the water stream. If you watched him witching a well, you would notice how tightly he gripped the willow stick, as it turned in his hand. He did not release his grip on the willow and he did not turn his wrists when the water stream was found, the stick turned in his hand. Gary had perfected his ability to find water to the point that within an amazing accuracy he could even predict how deep the well driller would have to drill before finding water. He “witched” wells all over Teller County, with amazing accuracy. Gary found water for thousands of people over about 40 years of “witching” for water.
Gary lived a spectacular life. It could easily be summed up in only one word, complete. He lived a long life, filled with excitement, adventure, family and friends. Gary was a loving and caring person, who dedicated his life to the service of others. The measure of a man can only be determined by the impact he made on others during his life. Gary had an impact on so many people in his life. He was fair, but firm, he treated all those he encountered with respect, a respect he earned in his efforts to treat everybody the same. Gary was loved by his family and friends and he loved his family and friends.
In the words of his son David Shoemaker, “There is only one thing that can be said, about my Dad, Gary Shoemaker, he was tough on the outside, but had a soft spot in his heart for his family and friends, and the Citizens of Teller County, and employees of the Teller County Sheriff’s Department who he so faithfully served for his entire adult life and law enforcement career. Dad, there will never be a day that I will not remember your kindness, love and support to your family, children, and grandchildren. Dad you raised us right, with strong ethics and values. Your Son, David and Daughter, Denise, are the successful adults we are today, Thanks to you, your support and love. We will miss you, Dad”.
He was preceded by his parents, Fred Carl and Geraldine Alice Shoemaker; one brother Larry Dwayne Shoemaker; one sister Sharon Carol Blazis; father-in-law Harry Feldman; mother-in-law Dodie Feldman; brother-in-law Jim Wierick and sister-in-law Sandy Wierick
Gary is survived by his wife Shirley Shoemaker of Cañon City, Colorado; his son David Shoemaker of Cañon City, Colorado; his daughter Denise Nelson of Eads, Colorado; step-daughter Kari Van Auken of Cañon City, Colorado; Son-in-law Sam Nelson of Eads, Colorado; grandsons Hatch and Case Nelson of Eads, Colorado; granddaughter Aspen Nelson of Eads, Colorado; grandsons Tylor Van Auken and T.J. Van Auken of Colorado Springs, Colorado; and many other family and friends, and his constant companion his Little Dog, K.C. is mourning the death of his “papa”.
Gary’s final wish was to have his ashes spread at the family home in Divide. Thank You Chris Glaser for allowing the family to honor his final wish. Gary will be going home. A private family service will be held honoring those wishes.
A Celebration of Life service will be held at 1:00pm Sunday, September 22, 2019 at the Divide Fire Department Shoemaker Station, 103 Cedar Mountain Road, Divide, Colorado 80814. Please bring your memories, stories, fellowship and a covered dish to share. The main course meal, pulled pork or beef will be provided by the family. All those who knew and loved Gary are welcome to attend.
The Shoemaker family wanted to recognize all the caregivers from Frontier Home Health Care and Hospice, Crystal, Lori Ann and Pastor Jake, your care and compassion have brought the Shoemaker family peace knowing Gary was so well cared for.