General Robert Shoemaker remembered, laid to rest
By LYNETTE SOWELL
On Wednesday afternoon, Central Texas and the greater Fort Hood community said goodbye to a man who served his country and the local area for more than four decades.
Gen. Robert Morin Shoemaker, who passed away on June 21 at the age of 93, was commander of III Corps and Fort Hood in the 1970s, then in 1977 was assigned as deputy commander of U.S. Army Forces Command and then became U.S. Army Forces Command commander. After his retirement in 1982, Shoemaker served as a Bell County commissioner.
Shoemaker is survived by his wife, Tuke. The two were married nearly 70 years.
Speakers at Shoemaker’s funeral on Wednesday afternoon included Gen. Robert B. Abrams, Forces Command commander; III Corps and Fort Hood commander Lt. Gen. Paul Funk II, Lt. Gen. (Retired) Pete Taylor and Shoemaker High School Principal Sandra Forsythe. After the service at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center, Shoemaker was buried with full military honors at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery. It was all as Shoemaker had planned it.
“We join the entire Central Texas community and our Army in mourning the loss of a great general, dynamic leader, philanthropist, and friend. General Shoemaker was an accomplished III Corps and Forces Command commander, a pillar of the community, and an inspiration to us all. We will truly miss him,” Lt. Gen. Paul E. Funk II, III Corps and Fort Hood commanding general, said in a statement issued by the Fort Hood Press Office.
One of Shoemaker’s longtime colleagues and friends, (Ret.) Col. Clyde Glosson of Copperas Cove shared about Shoemaker’s impact on the greater Fort Hood area.
Glosson, who was the Fort Hood garrison commander from 1986 until 1991, reminisced about Shoemaker.
“I saw him a couple of weeks ago. His body was failing him but his mind was just as bright and clear as it was when he was very active as a Bell County commissioner,” said Glosson, who knew Shoemaker for more than 30 years.
“He was a delightful person to be around. I cannot say enough about the selfless service. That’s something that’s bred into officers and he was just a real figure in demonstrating what selfless service is all about. He will be greatly missed in our community, his vision that he had for the community and his ability to pull diverse elements together, get them in a room together, and help them reason to come to a consensus.”
In January 2017, Glosson was appointed to the board of the Heart of Texas Defense Alliance and said that although Shoemaker had left the board, he was kept on as an ex-officio member.
“(Shoemaker) had served earlier, but his understanding and intelligence about the military and how it has affected this community over decades was so valuable, that I think the board voted to have him continue to be associated with the defense alliance organization,” Glosson said. “He always had valuable comments about what we were working on.”
Glosson also spoke to Shoemaker’s integrity.
“When you shook his hand on something, you could take it to the bank.”
With a high school in Killeen bearing his name, Shoemaker’s commitment to the young people of the Fort Hood area was a prominent part of his life after retirement.
“When he was a little younger, he was at Shoemaker High almost on a daily basis to spend time with those kids,” Glosson said. “He would tutor students in math, and he was very good in math, having gone through West Point. He spent a lot of time counseling kids and mentoring them and helping them with their math studies.”
Shoemaker was also a great supporter of having an upper level institution come to the Central Texas area and saw that come to fruition with the building of Texas A&M University Central Texas.
“He recognized the value of an upper level institution coupled with Central Texas College to afford military men and women that opportunity to get a college degree. Anything to help soldiers he always was a part of.”
Glosson said Shoemaker was instrumental in helping build the Greater Fort Hood United Way’s fall campaign so that it would benefit communities in the Central Texas area.
Even as recently as last November, Shoemaker was still leaving an impact although his health was in decline. At that time, Shoemaker cut the ribbon for the Shoemaker Center, part of Central Texas College’s Early College High School.
“Every now and then God sends us a wonderful person in the form of a shining star, that shines not only to protect America, but also to open the idea for the future of our students,” said Mari Meyer, chair of the CTC board of trustees, at the ceremony.
Shoemaker, who served 38 years in the military before his retirement from active duty in 1982, said at that time his passion has been for his local community.
“Since then I’ve been involved in the community, eight years as a commissioner, and the rest of the time on various boards, and sometimes just a meddler. I used to call myself the community meddler,” Shoemaker quipped. “But my passion has been to watch this marvelous community grow, and particularly the young kids.”