A Little Biography about Don Shoemaker
Donald Diehl Shoemaker was born in 1924 in Bedford, PA. He grew up as a farmer but in High School became interested in the Hospitality Industry while working as a golf caddy at nearby Bedford Springs Resort. He listed his ambition in his senior yearbook as “to become a hotel manager.” After serving in the U.S. Coast Guard Don married his high school sweetheart, Eunice. They both began working there way up through the ranks at Bedford Springs Resort. Shortly after their only daughter, Karen, was born Don was promoted to Resort Manager at Bedford Springs. The family moved into the manager house, known as “the White House,” on the resort property.
Don’s reputation of hard work spread through the hospitality industry quickly and it was not long until he was offered numerous jobs. He moved to Farmington in 1957 to manage the Summit Inn. It was during his time there, working for the Abbell Company, that Don realized his new dream was to own his own hotel. He and Eunice saved all they could and borrowed the rest from Mr. Eberly at Fayette Bank to buy the Summit Inn.
During their first years as owners they became very diligent with costs and preservation of the hotel. Don spent countless hours at the hotel watching costs and labor while making guests feel welcomed. Even when Don wasn’t at the hotel he was in his favorite chair in his living room overlooking the hotel. He once stopped a chimney fire from starting by calling the to warn the front desk from his favorite recliner. He was known as a wonderful friend and boss. He felt very lucky that he had lived his dream and was anxious to help others with theirs. He played a key role in saving the Laurel Caverns from strip mining by purchasing and preserving the caverns while the current owner, David Cale, was able to save enough to purchase the property for himself. He was also known as a very honest and hard headed businessman. He once kicked AAA out of the hotel when they asked him to replace the original Stickley furniture in the lobby with more modern furnishings.
Without Don Shoemaker the Summit would not have survived the times. Don was diagnosed with cancer in 1994 and passed the reigns to his only daughter, Karen. Don passed away in 1997 but his legacy lives on through his family at the Historic Summit Inn.