The late Veronica Shoemaker, the first black councilwoman of Ft. Myers, has died. Her daughter, Mattie Young, has struggled to keep the flower shop bearing her mother's name open after a Will Contest threatened her mother's legacy.
Family members apparently reached an agreement that assured Mattie would continue to run the Veronica S. Shoemaker Florist Shop in the Dunbar community its founder served for decades. "It's important that her legacy here, her legacy in the community and her spirit continue," Young said.
Veronica Shoemaker's will was challenged in court by her granddaughter Latoya Shoemaker, the daughter of her late son who died in 1982. Latoya argued that her grandmother lacked the capacity to make a will because she was suffering from the effects of Alzheimer's disease. Latoya claimed at one point in the dispute, that the signatures of Veronica Shoemaker were forgeries. The suit stated that Veronica Shoemaker was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2007.
Veronica’s will left the florist business to her daughter. She noted that, as she faced advancing age, Mattie had worked to maintain the store's place in the community. Veronica Shoemaker died Jan. 21, 2016, and the will was filed in probate court in June. It was challenged a month later.
An agreement was struck with the help of a mediator and was filed in court. The trial scheduled to begin that week was canceled.
Although some of the terms of the agreement were kept confidential, Mattie, her niece Latoya Shoemaker and her brother Bennie will be given equal shares in what remains of Shoemaker's estate, after the final expenses are paid and any property sold. The will filed in court had provided for only a 10% percent share for Latoya.
Mattie will continue to operate the flower shop that her mother founded 42 years ago. She expressed relief that the episode was over and her mother's name will remain prominent in the community she inspired and served.
"She put everything she had into this corner," Young said at the store at the corner of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and the former Palmetto Avenue Extension, renamed Veronica Shoemaker Boulevard in honor of the first black person to win election to the Fort Myers City Council.
Reference: (Fort Meyers FL) news-press.com (April 26, 2017) “Shoemaker estate issue settled; florist shop stays open”