The Secret Sauce Of Shoes, Bill Evans, 102, Dies–Buffed At People’s Bank For Decades

No one can fill Bill Evans’ shoes, literally and figuratively.

For decades he had his own cubicle inside People’s Bank. Enter the main entrance on Main Street Downtown, veer left, take a seat and watch magic happen for corporate executives, bankers, lawyers and just plain folk coming in for a shine and a sense of history.

Bill, 102 years young, has passed away.

Bill Evans with mayoral aide Carolyn Vermont at his 100th birthday party.

Bill buffing your shoes was like an added-value foot massage, in his multi-step approach. Wipe, brush, buff, dab of special potion to close it out.

This man was loved. A few years ago, on his 100th birthday, more than 100 attended a celebration at the bank.

David Carson, who served as chief executive officer of the bank for nearly 20 years, kept Bill in mind when he decided to build a new corporate headquarters in Bridgeport hiring renowned architect Richard Meier.

“Bill Evans was a unique ‘Only in Bridgeport’ person,” says Carson. “His original shoe shine stand in Bridgeport Center was designed by Richard Meier, but his person was created by his interaction with people who he met and talked with everyday and yes the best shoeshine you ever had for both women and men! RIP Mr. Evans!”

Evans portrait by Jay Misencik.

Bill was among the first featured in the portrait project of photographers Jay Misencik and Geralene Valentine, capturing his discipline, desire and longevity.

Twenty years ago, while cooking, I committed an unpardonable crime: dripping extra virgin olive oil on my leather shoe. Splat! Green meets brown leather equals “Dude, your shoe is gross.”

Yuck.

I walked into Bill’s quarters, presented the shoe. “What do we do?”

“What caused it?”

“Olive oil.”

“This could be a problem,” said Bill, adding with a smile, “just add olive oil to the other shoe to make a match.”

“Really?”

Laughs.

Bill said, “this is not something I can do now. Will take an extra step I don’t have here. See me in a week.”

I returned in a week. Perfecto!

“Bill, what did you do?”

“It’s a secret.”

I still wear those shoes.

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5 comments

  1. May Mr. Evans rest in peace. Many of us knew Mr. Evans well before People’s Bank. Before sneakers took over geeting your shoes shine for church on Sunday or before that dance you would stop by to see Mr. Evans for the wisdom and conversation. It was like getting that haircut, it was good grooming and when left Mr. Evans you knew you looked sharp.

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  2. What are the secrets of a long life? Perhaps Mr. Evans commented on them to a client or two through the years. I cannot remember. But they likely included the discovery of “work” that suited your God given abilities in multiple ways and provided joy and good feeling to the community. It allowed Bill to work well beyond what are considered retirement times. He continued to share thoughts with customers and keep their fine shoes in shining shape. The snap of his rag is missed as is the splendor of his effort displayed on leather. AMEN

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