Hodges University today honored community activist Veronica Shoemaker as its first ever Luminary Award recipient. The award was presented at a luncheon at the Pelican Preserve Golf Club in Fort Myers.
The Luminary Award recognizes a local citizen who personifies society’s most valued human characteristics and thus has moved society in a positive way, serving as a distinguished example of the virtues of perseverance, honesty, moral character and charity.
Among the many accolades honoring Mrs. Shoemaker was a letter from President Barack Obama. Letters from Congressman Connie Mack IV and former Senator Connie Mack III were also read at the sold-out event.
Shoemaker was also presented with an honorary degree, Doctor of Public Service, at the event. This is only the fifth time in the 20-year history of the institution that an honorary doctorate degree has been bestowed.
“Mrs. Shoemaker has worked tirelessly for close to 60 years to improve the Fort Myers community,” said Dr. Terry McMahan, President of Hodges University. “Her drive and determination is truly inspirational for not only the students of Hodges University, but for us all, and we are proud to honor her for her service.”
Shoemaker became active in Civil Rights activities while President of the PTA in the early 1960s. She served as President of the NAACP in Fort Myers and relinquished this position when she ran for public office. She ran unsuccessfully for 16 years, campaigning for any available seat, including the county commission, city council, school board and hospital board. She was ultimately elected in 1982, becoming the first African American-elected official in Fort Myers. She served with distinction for 26 years, and when she left office, she left a legacy of goodwill and many incredible accomplishments.
In 2007, she saw the realization of one of her many community projects, the construction of a north-south corridor linking East Fort Myers to Colonial Boulevard and further south, as it was named Veronica S. Shoemaker Blvd.
Hodges also presented its Founders Award to Doug Baker, Fort Myers Chief of Police. The Award is annually conferred upon a Hodges University graduate who has provided outstanding and distinguished service to our community. Chief Baker earned a Bachelor of Science in Management degree in 2000, and followed with his Master of Science in Management in 2005.