Stephen Lentz, 83, longtime owner of Roy’s Shoe Shop

Stephen Lentz worked at Roy’s Shoe Shop on Stevens Avenue for so long that many people called him “Roy.”

tLentz, one of Greater Portland’s last cobblers, known for his kindness and outgoing personality, died July 24 of complications from vascular dementia. He was 83 years old.

Lentz started working at Roy’s Shoe Shop when he was 16. He has repaired the soles of men’s work shoes and boots as well as women’s high heels and dress shoes. He repaired handbags, briefcases, suitcases, belts, jackets and baseball gloves.

Stephen Lentz. Photo courtesy of Dan Lentz

In 1981, Stephen and his wife, Nancy Lentz, purchased the business from George Roy Jr. and moved their family into the apartment above the store. After retiring in 2010, Lentz would come downstairs to shine shoes, hand sew and wait for customers.

“It’s the only job he’s ever had,” said his daughter, Laurie Lentz Roy, of Hollis. “It’s amazing. He loved people. He loved interacting with people. You couldn’t not love him. He was so kind and compassionate. There was an innocence about him in his personality. He was so genuine .

His son, Dan Lentz, who now runs Roy’s Shoe Shop, started working there as a shoe shiner when he was 12 years old. Lentz taught Dan the craft – his son said he had a great eye for mixing colors. If a client needed dyed shoes for a wedding, Lentz would mix the colors, usually in a jar of baby food, to find the right match.

“He would add a drop of this and a drop of that until he adjusted it,” he said. “Sometimes he had 7 to 10 pairs of shoes to dye. He was really good at it. He was good at mending and patching shoes.

Lentz graduated from Deering High School in 1957 and served in the National Guard until 1965. He was married to Nancy Lentz for 61 years and raised four children on Wyndham Street.

Lentz was a devoted father whose life centered on family and community. He was loved by neighborhood children and was known to pile them into his station wagon for trips to Riverton Pool for a swim.

“He was like a grown child,” his daughter said. “It was like your dad was your friend. He brought us sledding and ice skating in the winter and sailing, hiking and canoeing in the summer. If there was a hike planned, he There were always neighborhood kids at some point. He always included anybody.

Lentz enjoyed helping people and tinkering with bikes, cars, and boats. If someone’s car broke down in front of the shoe store, he offered to help. When a kid brought him a bike with a flat tire or a broken chain, Lentz made the repairs.

When Lentz had an idea, he made it happen. He wanted to go sailing, but didn’t have a boat. So Lentz rigged a sail on a canoe and installed a centreboard and tiller. A few years later, he bought a 19-foot Lightning sailboat. In the 1990s, he bought a Kells sailboat, which he moored at East End Beach. His son said he would row the canoe to the boat, saying hello to everyone. He said his father taught him to sail.

“He was cruising in places he probably shouldn’t be at low tide when the rocks were exposed. I would get up at the front of the bow and show him some rocks so he knew which way to go. I was 10, 11 and 12 doing that. It was really awesome. What we must have looked like out there on that boat,” his son said with a laugh.

Lentz rode his bike to and from the shoe store every day when he lived in the Riverton neighborhood. He has always had passions for sailing and hiking and enjoyed winter hikes at Mount Chocorua in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. His children remembered hikes on Mount Baldface and Mount Washington, and camping trips to Mount Blue State Park in Weld.

“When I think of my childhood, I remember all the things my parents did with us,” her daughter said. “We went camping for 2-3 weeks at a time. They started camping at Mount Blue when it opened. It’s something we’ve always done. I camped there with my daughters. Now my daughter is camping with her son there. When I think of my childhood, I think of all those amazing memories.

Lentz and his wife lived above the shoe store until 2019, when they moved into an assisted living facility. Three months later he fell ill and was taken from the hospital to the Barron Center in Portland, where he died. There were long periods when they couldn’t see each other due to COVID-19. It was the couple’s longest period apart since they started dating in 1958, and it was heartbreaking for both of them.

“They were two pieces of a puzzle that fit together perfectly,” their daughter said. “When they still lived on Stevens Avenue, they walked to the library holding hands. They really loved each other. »


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