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Rev. William Thomas Shumake

Rev. William Thomas Shumake

Aug 29, 1926

Aug 11, 2022


Rev. William Thomas Shumake, 95, of Louisville transitioned to his heavenly home on Thursday, August 11, 2022 at Baptist Health. He was the Pastor of Community Missionary Baptist Church for 64 years.

Visitation 2-4 pm Sunday at Community Missionary Baptist Church 4909 E. Indian Trail. Funeral to follow at 4 pm. In lieu of flowers, the family is asking that you make a donation to Community Missionary Baptist Church-- for others. Service will be streamed on live or

William Thomas Shumake was born August 29, 1926, in Louisville, Kentucky, to the union of proud parents Albert Harris Shumake, Pastor of First Virginia Avenue Baptist Church, and Susie B. Ashby Shumake, a devoted wife, mother and homemaker. He was the eighth child and second youngest out of a family of eight boys and one girl who were reared in the Parkland Community at 3433 Virginia Avenue which was right down the street from his father’s church.

Certainly by today’s standards, this was a large family, and in the 1920’s, it was considered a nice size family, too. Can’t you hear the neighbors saying, “All those boys and only one girl!… Reverend sure followed the scripture when it said be fruitful and multiply!... I believe he took God at his word.” The nine children were James, John, Isaac, Paul, Hildred, Naomi, Abner, Bill, and the youngest, David. Whether you were in church, school, walking through the neighborhood or being somewhere you shouldn’t be, folks identified you by your family name, talents or lack thereof, facial features, body build, moral character, or simply the way you carried your hands. No matter how much you tried to deny it, you BELONGED, and everyone seemed to recognize a Shumake.

Bill, as he was called, was the apple of his father’s eyes. From birth until his father’s death, he was right under him as much as possible. He followed him to church, to visit the sick and shut-ins, and to run errands for church members and neighbors. When Bill was about five or six years old, he would go to the church early in the morning to help get the church cleaned up and ready for Sunday service. His older brothers would help their father stoke the fire by placing coal in the stove; and the younger children would pick up paper and help with dusting (trying to get some of the black coal dust off the seats). Sometimes if the church didn’t have enough money for coal, their father would bring it from their home to heat the church. Bill considered himself to be the “chosen one”, and perhaps he was, because his father could see something different in him that he didn’t see in the other boys. Undeniable, he followed his father’s footsteps and became a minister and a pastor in much later years. He was a small built child who didn’t start any trouble but could defend himself if need be. He was often mischievous; no doubt with six older brothers, but always had a caring and giving spirit about him, even as a young boy. As a child, he had the ability to reason with others and not cause a confrontation, and this kept him out of trouble, most of the time. He was liked by many because of his pleasing personality.

Bill attended Virginia Avenue Elementary School which, again, was right down the street from where he lived. Elementary school was uneventful. He was an average student scholastically but an A+ student in conduct. His only “hiccup” in school happened when he decided to become the class clown. That didn’t last long though because his father went to school and spanked him in front of the class. From then on, his behavior adjusted in a hurry – a quick learner. The teachers at school definitely knew Bill because they had taught all of his other older siblings.

Continuing his education, Bill moved on to Madison Junior High School. It was at this time in junior high, when he had the life altering experience of losing both of his parents in less than five months apart. His mother passed on July 10, 1940, when Bill was thirteen years old, and his father passed on December 14, 1940, when he was fourteen. What a blow to a young man just at the time he was beginning to experience life as a teenager! Nevertheless, Bill was encouraged to still continue his education, so he attended Central High School for a brief time but lost interest in school and dropped out. Later, as an adult, he earned his G.E.D. and also attended Simmons Bible College in preparation for his walk with the Lord in his ministry.
After experiencing the loss of both parents at such an early age, God sent an angel for His children, and Bill’s angel was his sister in-law, Loraine Shumake. She and Bill’s brother, John, moved into the family home on Virginia Avenue and maintained the family. At that time, most of the older brothers had moved out of the family home and were married. Naomi “Sis”, Abner “AB”, Bill and David stayed at home. Hildred “HW”, an older brother, was in college at Tuskegee. Loraine was the primary caregiver, who took in Bill, raised him as her own child, and became his surrogate mother. He was crazy about Loraine and held her in high esteem for being his “rock” and steering him in the right direction. Life went on as normal as it could be under the circumstances. Bill stayed in the family home until he turned eighteen years old and was drafted into the United States Navy in February 1945 during World War II and did basic training at Great Lakes, Illinois. This was the first time he had been outside his roots, the Parkland Community, and traveled that far – no family, no friends, no familiar surroundings. What an experience!
After graduating from basic training, Bill was stationed in Virginia and Shoemaker, California. (Isn’t that ironic, Shoemaker, so close to the name Shumake.) It was in Shoemaker, California, that Bill learned one of life’s many lessons. Every time his superiors referred to blacks, they would say YOU PEOPLE. So Bill asked the question, “What do you mean, YOU PEOPLE?” It was the wrong question to ask because he was “assigned” to seven days in the brig for insubordination. On the seventh day, the commander asked why he was in the brig and had he received a meal after the fourth day. Bill’s response was “No”, so the commander immediately demanded his release. He then was sent overseas with the next platoon to Okinawa, Japan, and from there then to Petula Island. The Navy afforded him the opportunity to see many States and have a tour in another country. Those sixteen months in the Navy made Bill a responsible man. He always felt it was worth the stay although he never learned to swim and was never fond of the water. Bill was honorably discharged in May 1946. It was in Okinawa, Japan that he recognized his calling by God to preach.

Shortly after returning from the Navy, Bill reacquainted with his neighborhood sweetheart, Doris Jean Harbin, who her older brother, Charles Harbin, had introduced him to before he was drafted into the Navy. That relationship blossomed, and Bill asked Doris’ parents, Pemmon and Lillian Harbin, for her hand in marriage. When Doris accepted his proposal for marriage, Bill thought he had died and gone to heaven because he thought she was the cutest girl in the neighborhood. They eventually married, and to this union, two daughters were born, Sharon Jean and six years later, Gayle Angela. Bill and Doris remained married until her passing on June 29, 2007.

After the Navy, Bill was employed by Cicero Flood Dry Cleaners as the delivery driver. However, he had entrepreneurship in his blood. Even as a young man, he was always gainfully employed at doing something but desired to own a business of some kind. Being an astute observer of how the business was managed, he became a self- taught dry cleaner employee and this job prepared him for what he would do later. He bought the dry cleaning business and opened it as Shumake’s Cleaners. Bill maintained the business for approximately five years before he sold it. While owning his own business, he was also employed at E. I. DuPont full time and retired as a young man at the age of 50 years old. Another venue of entrepreneurship demonstrated by Bill was the dream of owning a funeral home. He felt there was a need in the Newburg area to serve the community and render dignified funeral services to them. So on April 4, 1982, the doors of W. T. Shumake and Daughters Funeral Home opened for business and remains open.

Bill was brought up in a Christian home. He had joined the church when he was nine years old and was baptized by his father, Pastor at First Virginia Avenue Baptist Church. He had seen his parents praying in good and hard times, but being young, he didn’t really understand the power of prayer. However, as he got older, matured, and experienced life, he began to understand what prayer could do. Even though he was young when his parents passed, the foundation was laid, and he tried to follow the path they had prepared for him. As a young married man and a father, he was very active in his home church, First Virginia Avenue Baptist, under the pastorate of Rev. R. J. Miller. He was an assistant adult Sunday school teacher, assistant church treasurer, president and member of the Jubilee Chorus, and later an ordained deacon.

He acknowledged his calling into the ministry while in the Navy and worked diligently studying God’s word and allowing God to guide his footsteps. Because others recognized and observed his walk with the Lord, it was recommended that he be given an opportunity to pastor Community Missionary Baptist Church. In December 1958, Rev. William Thomas Shumake became the pastor of Community Missionary Baptist Church. He always believed God would send him where He wanted him to be. With some apprehension, and understandably so, being a pastor for the first time, Rev. Shumake relied on his faith in God to guide and direct him along the way. He was young, married, and with a young family, Sharon was nine and Gayle was three, but he had the wisdom, given by God to persevere, be true and faithful to God’s word, guide his flock, and stand on the promises of God. Rev. Shumake often remarked that his happiest years were being at Community Missionary Baptist Church serving God and God’s people. So for 64 GOD GIVEN years, and until his passing, Rev. William Thomas Shumake was BLESSED to be the Shepherd of, in his own words, “ the GREATEST CHURCH that I know.”
Rev. Shumake, Pastor, Preacher, The Pope, Doc, Unc, and Bill, were all the names he answered to and was proud to be called by each one, but the one name that resonated with him most was to be called A Child of God. For truly being called A Child of the Omnipotent God is the highest honor that can be bestowed upon any believer.

Sadly, and with heavy hearts, Rev. William Thomas Shumake peacefully transitioned into heaven to be with his Heavenly Father on Thursday, August 11, 2022, at 4:19 A.M., in Louisville, Kentucky. He was preceded in death by his wife, Doris Jean Harbin Shumake. He leaves his legacy and to cherish his memories: his daughters, Sharon Shumake Adams and Gayle Shumake Graham; grandson, Kyle Edward Shumake Brooks; son in-law (who was like a son), Gregory Alan Graham; sister in-law, Betty Harbin Reese; adopted granddaughter, Judith Miller; nieces, nephews, other family members, his church family, and friends.

We love you! You surely will be missed by so many!!!
Your love, legacy and lessons taught will live on forever

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