While she grew up clerking the family’s country store, selling groceries and pumping gas, resident Pat Shoemake had no idea how her life in the small community of Rondo would prepare her for a life traveling the world.
“I grew up in our family’s country home, worked at the country store next door, attended a country church and went to a one-room school just 45 miles north of Springfield. The values I learned there have helped me all through life,” Pat said.
After high school at Bolivar, Pat was tired of clerking the store and “went to Kansas City to make my fortune” but discovered that life as a file clerk at Sears and Roebuck wasn’t for her. So, she went home and enrolled in college to become a teacher. She taught second through eighth grades before getting married to Edward. She stayed home for eight years to raise two daughters and went back to teaching until her retirement.
While married, Pat and her family lived in various places due to her husband’s career in the Navy.
“I taught in Kansas, California, Midway Island and Guam. While in Guam, I taught Vietnamese students who had escaped from Vietnam after the war. The point was for the students to learn English, so we did a lot of play acting to learn English—we played store, and house. Growing up, I had a teacher who loved to have plays at school, too. She loved to have programs, music and poetry. She instilled in me a love of theater.”
When her family moved back to the states, elementary teacher jobs were hard to find, so Pat returned to school to become a special education teacher. “As a special education teacher, I had a resource room where several kids were all doing different things at one time. My experience growing up in a one-room school served me well for this.”
After retiring as a high school learning disability teacher, Pat traveled all over Polk County to interview residents for the 2000 census. She also became involved in community theater and did everything from make tickets and sell tickets to “play murderers and all sort of wonderful roles.”
Pat went back for more school, too. She took numerous classes in travel so she could join her daughter’s online travel agency. “We did luxury land and cruise travel. I was our Alaskan specialist. I’ve been all over the Caribbean and taken several cruises there and Alaska. I love the love of travel.”
About six years ago she put down new roots and moved into independent living at Farmington Presbyterian Manor. Here, she’s closer to her daughter and grandchildren and she enjoys reading, cooking, working in her garden and continuing her love of theater with other Presbyterian Manor residents.
“I love doing the reader’s theater here. We call it ‘Theater with Pat.’ It’s fun to turn someone’s wheelchair into a motorcycle.”
While Pat has roots growing here at the community, she doesn’t consider herself tied down.
“I’ve still got a bucket list. I have three states I haven’t been to: Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire. I’ve got to get there. I’m going to try next fall.”