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‘He’s still part of the fire service,’ Firefighters remember friend who passed away in line of duty

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HANOVER, Pa. -- Firefighters gathered at the old Eagle Fire Station in Hanover to remember Earl Shoemaker - both as a firefighter and a person.

Shoemaker passed away from a heart attack as he was responding to a house fire in West Manheim Township Saturday.

Jesse Wentz, former assistant Pleasant Hill fire chief, said, "When I heard about this and found out who it was, it brought a tear to my eye and just thought at least the man passed away doing something he loved to do."

Shoemaker was 68 and a volunteer at the Eagle Fire Company for more than 40 years.

Maynard Becker, treasurer for the Eagle Fire Company, said, "He was a very important member of the fire department and one that we greatly miss."

The Eagle Fire Department wants to move the Hanover Fire Department Museum to the old Eagle Fire Company Headquarters. Shoemaker was helping with the project.

Christopher Lockard, president of Hanover Firemen's Association, said, "Prior to Earl's passing on that Saturday, Earl had talked to me and said when are we going to get together again and do some more painting of the fire company."

The firefighters will leave his chair unoccupied when they go out for coffee. They still feel his presence even though he's no longer there.

Fire Police Captain Richard Angel said, "He's still part of the fire service. You forget he's not here. You just go ask Earl."

But other than being a great firefighter, he was also a giving person.

James Roth, retired Hanover fire commissioner, said, "Earl would go out and help everybody else, but he'd never ask anybody to come in and help him."

He said, "I guess you would say he's the life of the party. Everybody knew Earl and Earl knew everybody, and he wasn't afraid to tell you his opinion. Was he fellas?"

But firefighters are not the only ones who miss him. His family said they did not know how many lives he touched throughout his years of service.

Firefighter Jim Startzel said, "The outpouring of the community itself you know with the grieving and I mean just the people sending condolences and what have you and we've had businesses send cards, send stuff to the stations. It's just been mind blowing to be honest with you."

The funeral for Shoemaker will be held on Saturday.