It was six years ago Douglas Wayne “Doug” Livelsberger closed his iconic shoe repair shops in Gettysburg and Hanover and moved to the tiny town of Gouldsboro, Maine.
He kept his “Beanie’s Shoe Repair” business going in Gouldsboro and continued to fix customers’ footwear in these parts as well; people shipped him their shoes for repair, and Doug would ship them back.
Doug died suddenly at home on May 24. No cause of death was given.
Doug had been born on March 3, 1952, in Hanover, the son of the late Virginia and Raymond “Beanie” Livelsberger. People in this area often referred to him as “Beanie,” though that was his father’s nickname. His dad opened the Hanover shop the same year Doug was born. The elder Livelsberger died in 2000.
Doug opened his Gettysburg shop in 1976, according to a Gettysburg Times interview in November 2013, as he was preparing to close his local shops after nearly 40 years and re-settle in Maine.
He said then he would continue to serve his neighbors in Adams County.
“I want to still serve the people but do it in a different way I’d like to be able to continue to serve them in a mail order format … I don’t want to desert the people that have been so loyal to us,” he said.
Doug was proud of the fact that over the years he had accomplished his goal of completing the Appalachian Trail in 2007. He said he planned to do parts of it over again. Among the many things decorating the walls of his Gettysburg shop were images of sites along the trail.
Hiking the “AT,” as fans call it, is no small feat; it stretches through some unkempt terrain along the ridges and valleys of the Appalachian Mountains, from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine, a distance of about 2,200 miles. The trek, taken in one gulp, takes about three months.
In addition to his work on traditional footwear, Doug repaired and refurbished footwear and accessories for Civil War re-enactors and living historians.
Doug’s “historic” work was noted in the Times 2013 story.
“’I specialize in brogans,’ said Livelsberger as he picked up a pair of the boots favored by Civil War re-enactors. He pointed out the new soles on the mammoth size 13 boots. ‘The uppers have been freshly oiled.’”
Doug said then he had provided shoe repair services to the cast of the movie “Gettysburg.” The work was filmed largely in and around Gettysburg and released in 1993.
He once repaired a bag belonging to former President Dwight D. “Ike” Eisenhower, who lived in Gettysburg until his death in 1969.
Gettysburg businesswoman Jennie Knox said Doug’s passing would definitely leave a gap.
‘“He really was good at his profession and well respected,” she said. “I can’t tell you how many customers I had who spoke highly of him or were coming to me because they had dropped shoes off with Beanie.”
Doug could seem gruff at times, but it did not really reflect the man, she said.
“Beanie was gruff at first meeting but, after some time, quite kind,” she said. “When he spoke of hiking the trail, he seemed to light up.”
Doug seemed not to really think of his job as, well, a job.
“I’m very lucky. I love what I do,” he had said. “When you love what you do, it’s not work.”
According to his obituary, condolences may be expressed at Beanie’s Shoe Repair on Facebook.
The obit also said it was Doug’s wish that no service be conducted.
“Absent Friends” is published in the Gettysburg Times on Thursdays. It tells the stories of people who go through their lives working and playing and affecting the lives of others with only a few ever knowing their names. Subjects are chosen mostly at random but suggestions may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.