David Powell Shoemaker was born in Kooskia, Idaho, May 12, 1920, the first in a family of five brothers. He attended Reed College in Portland (BA 1942) and Caltech (Ph.D. 1947), following which he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship (at 27, one of the youngest so honored). His fellowship year was spent mainly at the Institute for Theorietical Physics in Copenhagen, but partly in Oxford during Linus Pauling's tenure there of the Eastman Professorship.
He returned to Caltech as Senior Research Fellow (1948-1951) before going on to MIT. Provoked by the increasing pollution of the Eastern megalopolis and attracted by the opportunity of returning West, he moved to Corvallis in 1970 as Chairman of the Chemistry Department of Oregon State University. He retired there in 1984.