William Maynor, 74, shoe repairman for more than 60 years

January 17, 2003|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

William Maynor, a shoe repairman who kept the wingtips, loafers and pumps of his North Baltimore clientele in good repair and buffed to perfection for more than 60 years, died of a heart attack Monday at Union Memorial Hospital. The West Baltimore resident was 74.

Mr. Maynor, owner of Genco's Shoe Service, was born in Leggett, N.C., and raised on Schwartz Avenue, four blocks from the Stoneleigh shoe repair shop where he found what became his life's work.

"As a 12-year-old, in order to make some money, he'd take his neighbor's shoes to Pete Genco's shop on York Road to be shined and repaired," said a daughter, Wanda Maynor-Kearse of Baltimore. "He later worked cleaning the store until one day Mr. Genco showed him how to take a shoe apart and repair it."

Established by Pete Genco in the 6800 block of York Road in 1926, the business has remained at the location since its founding.

Mr. Maynor, who attended Baltimore County public schools until the eighth grade, went to work full time in the shop in 1941, and never left.

In 1984, he bought the shop from Joe Genco, the original owner's son, who had inherited the business after his father's death in 1954.

"It was worth the wait," Mr. Maynor told The Sun in a 1989 interview. "I know it's a long time, but I knew what I had to do and I did it."

Dressed daily in a green or navy blue smock, Mr. Maynor never wavered from a set routine.

Rather than drive to the store in his 1977 white Lincoln Continental, he chose to ride two buses and walk the last couple of blocks to the shop for exercise.

"He left home by 7 a.m. and opened the store at 9 a.m. which was open six days a week," said Mrs. Maynor-Kearse, the store's business manager. "He closed at 6 p.m., but waited around most nights until 6:30, for the convenience of customers who were coming from town and wanted to pick up their shoes."

"I've known him 30 years," said Vincent Ayd, whose hardware store is next door. "He always brought a sense of security and reliability to the neighborhood as he walked to work. He was a kind and gentle soul who cared about his work."

Visitors to the shop were greeted by the sight of whirring machines, all of which dated to the 1920s. The quick rat-tat-tatting sound of a stitcher or a Singer sewing machine mingled with the rich aromas from choice Italian leathers and creamy polishes such as Meltonia and Kiwi.

"He always used prime Italian leathers, Neolite rubber heels, and the best polishes," said Mr. Maynor's daughter. "Only the best."

When customers moved away or retired, they continued to send their shoes to the shop for repair, family members said.

David Kittrell, who worked in the shop for the past four years, praised Mr. Maynor's abilities.

"He was the greatest guy to work with, always mild-mannered and on an even keel," said Mr. Kittrell. "He never flared up. He knew all phases of the business and was well-experienced. He also did an awful lot of orthopedic work, which is very specialized."

Fionnuala Brooks, owner of Consignment Galleries in Stoneleigh, said, "He ran a very welcoming shop where folks could sit on a sofa and chat. He had an eternal smile on his face, and there was always lots of love about him."

Mr. Maynor who worked in the shop the day before his death, reluctantly took vacations, preferring to be at work.

"He used to say, `I can't close, the people need me,'" said Mrs. Maynor-Kearse.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. tomorrow at St. Bernardine Roman Catholic Church, 3800 Edmondson Ave.

Mr. Maynor is survived by his wife of 51 years, the former Alice Greene; three other daughters, Harriett M. Maynor of Baltimore and Rhonda E. Coombs and Robin A. Maynor, both of Pikesville; two brothers, Walter Maynor of New York and John Maynor of Baltimore; two sisters, Harriett Whitfield of New York and Mildred McLean of Baltimore; four grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. His son, William G. Maynor, died in 1984.

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