Tex Shoemaker Arena
The San Dimas Western Days Rodeo arena has been named in the memory of Tex Shoemaker. "…A great man
with vision and courage to follow his dreams, who loved his family, his country, and San Dimas." "…A man proudly serving in law enforcement
for over 30 years." "…A man with an entrepreneurial flair and a natural talent for leathercraft, design and invention." "…A man with
the 'True Western Spirit'."
On a homestead in Wilsonville, Nebraska Loren Raymond Shoemaker was born June 22, 1913. When he was
ten years of age the Shoemaker family moved to El Paso, Texas where the lanky young man became known as Tex. In 1924 they continued
their journey west to live in Pasadena, California. While attending Wilson High School Tex became interested in the hand tooling of
leather and later, cir. 1936, learned leather carving from Bob Brown who has hand carved many of the silver saddles seen in the Rose
After high school, Tex was employed as a mule skinner on the mountain trails near Sierra Madre. He also took pack outfits
into the mountains. A Pasadena private investigator hired him as a security officer on millionaire row in Pasadena. From there, at
18 years of age, it was a short step to becoming a Sierra Madre Police Officer. On Cinco de Mayo in 1935, Tex Shoemaker married Faye
Blanchard and two months later, July 1, 1935, became police chief for the city of La Verne. Leaving La Verne in 1940, Tex worked in
the city of Alhambra. He passed the sheriff’s exam September 1, 1941 and began his work with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s organization.
His last 20 years in the service were spent with the Robbery Division of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office and retired in 1966
with the rank of Sergeant of Detectives. He was an officer of the law for 33 years.
Shoemaker’s venture into the leather business
was started in his home and his first professional leather production shop was in a room he built and attached to the family two-car
garage. Tex’s wife, Faye, was not only the love of his life but a business partner, visionary designer, and would play a vital role
in the building of Shoemaker Leather. From a humble but effective beginning, Shoemaker Leather grew into a nationally respected leader
in the leather business, one of the largest manufacturers of police leather gear in the U.S. By appointment of the San Dimas City
Council Shoemaker served on a committee instrumental in creating a Law Enforcement Committee to work with the local Sheriff’s Department
and subsequently served as a member until his death. Tex actively supported the San Dimas Festival of Western Arts and was a dedicated
member of the festival's board of directors. He was a charter member of San Dimas Corral of Westerners International for five years
and president in 1986.
Tex remained active in his business, Tex Shoemaker & Son Inc., until two months prior to his passing
at the age of 81 on January 18, 1994. He was a gentleman of the old school whose handshake was as good as a contract. He told it as
he saw it. A great man whose candle burned brightly with enthusiasm for life, he believed that everyone could realize their dreams,
and in that bargain was willing to help them.
Though somewhat shy, Tex was an impressive individual at six feet four inches in
height. He always wore tailored western clothes, boots, and a cowboy hat. Yup, Tex loved the west and was proud to set his roots in
the city of San Dimas.
*quote by daughter, Sharon, from the October, 1966 issue of Our Town, San Dimas in an article by John
Walgren. [Based on information gathered from the April 1986 LaVerne Magazine (article by Lynn Casella) and the October, 1996 Our Town
San Dimas (article by John Walgren)].