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William Shumaker

Updated: Mar 8

William Alan Shumaker, 93, was born in Ames Iowa on October 13, 1927. He was the second son of Dr. John B. and Ruth Shumaker, a city kid with the dream and desire to grow and nurture. He passed away on Friday February 26, 2021.


HIs first paid gardening gig was in a gladioli garden as a young teen, followed by growing cucumbers for "Max's Pickles", leading to a massive crop of squash on borrowed land. Being fearless, with a good supply of patience and wry humor, he served his country in the Navy, nurtured a solid marriage with a spitfire of a wife, Mildred to whom he was very devoted, a career at the post office and a handful of babies.


After the many seasons spent raising a crop of five children, Bill became one of the first fifteen vendors in forming the Des Moines Farmers Market in 1976. He designed, dug out and built what they would later come to call a trenched caterpillar tunnel and to grow 1000 tomatoes and 1200 pepper plants from seeds for the market.


He was given some Hardy Amaryllis bulbs in 1985 and after being impressed with the blooms, he bought more, planting and dividing every year, multiplying the field into hundreds of thousands of blooms which can still be seen along the eastern edge of the Walnut Creek Bike Trail, always coinciding with the State Fair.


As of late, he developed an interest in hydroponics and growing tomatoes and produce indoors as a way to stay engaged with nurturing life and living. Bill Shumaker found joy and peace in nature from dusk to dawn. A quiet and humble man, Bill has hung up his dibble, set down his watering can, and is taking his well deserved rest.


He is survived by his five children, Rebecca Casady, Amy Shumaker, Bill Shumaker, Mary Springer and John (Becki) Shumaker, seven grandchildren and six great grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife Mildred, his parents, Dr. John B. and Ruth Shumaker, his brother, Dr. J. B. "Jack" Shumaker, and two grandchildren.


Due to Covid, a service will be held later this year. Memorials can be made to the Mayo Clinic.