Gradus Lawrence Shoemaker

January 18, 1921December 24, 2018
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Gradus Lawrence Shoemaker, 97, passed away peacefully in his sleep, December 24, 2018 after living a fascinating and extremely productive life of nearly 98 years. Gradus L. Shoemaker was born on January 18, 1921, in Zeeland, Michigan to Corey and Hattie (Lubbers) Shoemaker. Gradus graduated from Zeeland High School in 1939 and attended Hope College, where he graduated Magna Cum Laude in 1944. Immediately after graduation, he enlisted in the US Navy, earned the rank of ensign and served as communications officer on the USS Henrico, APA45, an attack transport ship that participated in the landings on Okinawa during WWII. The Henrico was struck by a Kamikazi plane during that battle and lost more than fifty men. As a result of the attack, Gradus was hospitalized until the end of the war. After the war, Gradus received his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from University of Illinois and did post graduate work at Rutgers University and Montana State University. He became Assistant Professor of Chemistry at the University of Louisville in 1949. He served as Professor, Chairman of the Department of Chemistry, Chairman of the Division of Natural Science and as Commencement Grand Marshal for thirteen years. He was the last surviving member of the chemistry group that introduced the Ph.D. (Chemistry) program to the university in the early 1950’s. Gradus was an active member of the American Chemical Society from 1947 until his retirement in 1988, serving twice as chairman of the local section. He was also a member of The Society of the Sigma Xi, Phi Lambda Upsilon, Alpha Chi Sigma, Alpha Epsilon Delta, Phi Kappa Phi. It was at The University of Louisville where Gradus met his wife to be, Florence E. Wright. They married on June 5, 1952 and were married for nearly sixty-six years, until Florence’s passing in April of 2018. His many interests included history and genealogy and he was a member of Louisville Historical Society and Louisville Genealogical Society. Because Gradus grew up on a farm, he loved gardening. He also loved to travel across this country and around the world. Gradus and Florence traveled the world together, visiting more than fifty countries on six continents. Gradus was also an enthusiastic Louisville Cardinals supporter, having held season tickets since the 1950’s. Gradus was a member of Bardstown Road Presbyterian Church since 1952 and had served his church in many positions including as Elder, Member of Session, and Chairman of the Buildings and Grounds Committee. He was devoted to helping his friends and serving his community. He was an Honorary Kentucky Colonel, a member of Covenant Housing Executive Committee, a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, The American Red Cross and served as Assistant Scout Master of Boy Scout Troop 246. Dr. Shoemaker was preceded in death by his parents and his younger sister, Elizabeth Grace Shoemaker and his wife, Florence Wright Shoemaker. He is survived by his two children, Robert N. Shoemaker (Tracy) and Elizabeth “Betty” S. Dotson (Dennis), both of Louisville and numerous extended family. Visitation will be from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm on Friday, December 28th, 2018 at Arch L. Heady and Son at Westport Village, 7410 Westport Road with a service to follow at 1:00 pm in the funeral home chapel. Burial will follow at Cave Hill Cemetery. Memorial gifts may be made in Gradus’ memory to Bardstown Road Presbyterian Church, 1722 Bardstown Road, Louisville, KY 40205. The family would like to thank all the professional and loving staff that cared for Dr. Shoemaker over the last two years at Symphony at Oaklawn and at The Episcopal Church Home.


  • Bardstown Road Presbyterian Church


  • Visitation Friday, December 28, 2018
  • Funeral Service Friday, December 28, 2018

Gradus Lawrence Shoemaker

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Jamie Jarboe

December 31, 2018

My father is Charles Harry Jarboe. He was in the first PhD class at UL. Dad was a professor at UL Medical and Dental Schools and taught pharmacology. I remember him mentioning Dr. Shoemaker often. Dad died in January and we miss him. I know Dr. Shoemaker helped my Dad become the great chemistry professor he was. They are gone but not forgotten. Thank you.

Mary Jane Hoog

December 28, 2018

I was saddened to read of the passing of Dr. Shoemaker. I received a B.S. in Chemistry from U of L in 1963. Dr. Shoemaker was my advisor. I have thought of him from time to time. He was such a kind person and I have fond memories of my time there.
I send sincere condolences to his family......
Mary Jane Mather Hoog
Dayton, Ohio

Gail Henson

December 27, 2018

Dear Betty and Bob,
With so much gratitude for your father--mentor at the University of Louisville, mentor at church, wise and kind friend to our children. We mourn with you but are grateful for the legacy he created. Sending love, Gail and Ed Henson

howard johnson

December 27, 2018

Greetings, Robert and Betty --
Our condolences to you and your families on the death of Gradus. He has always been a special relative and friend. We will dearly miss him.
My memories of Grad go way back - he and my brothers went to the worlds fair in Chicago in the thirties. I remember he and a college professor looking for arrowheads when I was working in a field in the early forties. We remember well all of he and Florence visits to the family here, along with Betty. He had super parents in Cory and Hattie, who were very poor. He and Florence were great supporters of our son, Mike, in his work in missions and discipleship training. We will miss Grady and our many letters and cards, of keeping in touch with he and Florence. He was a great father and friend, now with his saviour, Jesus Christ.