Southwest Florida says goodbye to Veronica Shoemaker

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FORT MYERS, Fla. – A grateful community bids farewell to a champion for human rights.

Funeral services were held Saturday for Veronica Shoemaker, a pioneer in the civil rights movement in Lee county. She died January 22, 2016, surrounded by family.

The city of Fort Myers donated the use of Harborside Event Center for the service, and the city obtained an order from the governor, to allow flags, to be flown at half-staff in Shoemaker’s honor.

She was remembered through song and words. Some mourners said she believe in her heart, that we shall overcome. Others said she fought always, so that we shall overcome.

People came together to salute Veronica Shoemaker’s accomplishments.

“We’ll always remember her legacy, the people she helped and what she stood for, ” said Carletha Griffin.

Speakers talked about Shoemaker’s first run for city council in 1968. She lost that election, and many more after, before winning a seat in the early 1980’s. Lee Commission Chair Frank Mann also first ran for office in 1968, and got to know shoemaker well.

“Defeat was not in her vocabulary. She’d get kicked down and she’d get back up and run harder and tougher than ever!” said Mann.

Veronica Shoemaker grew up in a segregated Fort Myers and fought the racial divide. She helped to launch the food pantry, that became Harry Chapin food bank. Shoemaker founded a home for abused children. She won the fight to integrate lee county schools and and the city named a roadway for her, 9 years ago.

Daughter, Mattie Shoemaker-Young,spoke publicly for the first time since her mother’s death.

“She often said, trials and tribulations and the crosses that we bear, will give way to a bright side for us all,” said Shoemaker-Young.

A couple of years ago, Shoemaker spoke of her guiding principle, a fitting epitaph: ” in order to get it done, you have to have faith in yourself, faith in God.”

Five-hundred people attended the service, an emotional goodbye to Lee County foremost fighter for equality.

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