Shoemaker, Don, 1912-1998

Alternative names
Birth 1912
Death 1998

Biographical notes:

Don Shoemaker (1912-1998), journalist and civic leader, received his A.B. in journalism from the University of North Carolina in 1934.

From the description of Don Shoemaker papers, 1937-1998. (Oceanside Free Library). WorldCat record id: 44513783

Don Shoemaker, journalist, newspaper editor, and civic leader, was born to American parents in Montreal, Canada, on 6 December 1912. He was married to Lyal Reynolds from 1937 to 1968, and, after her death, to Suzanne Statler, from 1969 until his death in 1998. He received his A.B. from the University of North Carolina as a journalism major in 1934 and a Litt.D. from Hollywood College.

Shoemaker began his newspaper career as telegraph editor for the Greensboro Record, but moved to the Asheville Times in 1937, then to the Asheville Citizen in 1941. There he was associate editor until 1947, when he was made editor. Shoemaker continued as editor of the Asheville Citizen until 1955, when he was made executive director of the Ford Foundation-sponsored Southern Education Reporting Service (SERS), based in Nashville, Tenn. This organization coordinated impartial and comprehensive reporting on the progress of school desegregation throughout the South. A newsletter, Southern School News, was published monthly for national distribution.

In 1958, Don Shoemaker left SERS, to re-enter newspaper work as editorial page editor of the Miami Herald, part of Knight Newspapers, Inc. He served as editor of the Herald from 1962 until 1978. After 20 active years at the Herald, Shoemaker retired in 1978, though he continued to write almost until his death.

Shoemaker's career was highlighted by his intense involvement in the civic life of Asheville and Miami. He served as president of the Buncombe County Community Chest. He was also the first chair of the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Association and received the 1950 Cannon Award from the North Carolina Society for the Preservation of Antiquities as a result of his work in helping to buy the Wolfe house for restoration. Shoemaker was involved with several community development and educational projects in Miami, including Seadade, Operation Amigo, the Florida Education Council, and the Florida Council of 100. He was also active in the National Conference of Christians and Jews in both Asheville and Miami.

Shoemaker made several trips to the Middle East, Spain, Greece, and Central and South America, sending back reports, some of which were collected into separate publications, such as Middle East Journey and Spanish Diary . He also edited a collection of essays by SERS reporters, entitled With All Deliberate Speed (1957) and The Case of The Lively Ghost (1957).

Shoemaker was inducted into the Journalism Hall of Fame at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on 22 April 1982. He died in Miami, Fla., on 5 November 1998.

From the guide to the Don Shoemaker Papers (#4968), 1937-1998, (Southern Historical Collection)


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Constellation Information

Ark ID:


  • Education
  • School integration
  • Journalists--History
  • Newspaper editors
  • American newspapers
  • Poets, American--20th century
  • Journalism
  • Segregation in education


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  • Asheville (N.C.) (as recorded)
  • Miami (Fla.) (as recorded)
  • Southern States (as recorded)
  • North Carolina (as recorded)