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Lay pastor died as water seeped into Rainelle home

Charleston Gazette-Mail photo by Christian Tyler Randolph  Ruth Ann Durham, daughter of Gary Keith Shumaker, shows an old Marine "Jarhead" hat that was owned by her father, who served in the Vietnam War and died June 24 before the fatal floods swept through his home and the town.
Charleston Gazette-Mail photo by Christian Tyler Randolph
Ruth Ann Durham, daughter of Gary Keith Shumaker, shows an old Marine “Jarhead” hat that was owned by her father, who served in the Vietnam War and died June 24 before the fatal floods swept through his home and the town.

RAINELLE, W.Va.Gary Keith Shumaker’s home in Rainelle had two rooms that were set aside for his passions.

One was dedicated to the local Baptist church community that he loved. The other was devoted to the other institution he cherished: the U.S. Marine Corps.

It was next to those two rooms — filled with the items that helped define his life — that Shumaker, 82, died June 24 as his daughter, Ruth Ann Durham, watched over him, and the town that he called home filled with floodwater.

Shumaker died of natural causes. He had been diagnosed with aggressive pancreatic cancer on March 9. It had already begun to spread.

But on the night he died, as his daughter stood by his side, 2 to 3 inches of water from Little Sewell Creek invaded his home on West Virginia Avenue.

Even with her feet freezing from the water and her dog unable to find a place to lie down, Durham said the last moments of her father’s life were spent peacefully. He died in his sleep as he sat in his wheelchair.

The hardest part for Durham came later, when emergency officials told her the town was being evacuated and that she would have to leave her father behind…

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