East Harriet resident and Bryant Avenue Shoe Service owner Jon Egbert died March 16 due to complications from cancer. He was 52. He is survived by his two sons, Karl, 29, and Andy, 12, and wife Joanne Hostert. "He was a very loving husband and father," said Hostert.
Egbert, who worked in the shoe repair trade since 1970, had a loyal Southwest following. Hostert said the 4310 Bryant Ave. shop was a very important part of his life, as was his relationship with loyal customers. She said Egbert, known to customers as the "Shoe Wizard," was much more than the "Shoe guy" Southwest residents came to know and love.
Hostert said Egbert was a wonderful cook who would often use ingredients he grew in his own garden. She said he was also a very musical man whose love of music began as a high school bassoonist and continued as a choir singer at Lynnhurst Congregational Church, 4501 Colfax Ave. S.
"He usually has classical music playing in the shop," Hostert said.
She said he was also a loyal student and teacher of tai’ chi, which had become his Monday night routine. Hostert said the outpouring of support from the tai’ chi community, in addition to Egbert’s customers, has been overwhelming. Egbert’s funeral was in late March.
Lynnhurst Church Pastor Bob Griggs, a close friend of Egbert’s, said that Egbert was his teacher. "He taught me honesty and courage, and I learned a lot from Jon about what it is to truly live," he said.
Griggs said Egbert’s great sense of humor, with a special love for Monty Python movies, was something that helped him through life and his illness. He said Egbert would talk openly about his illness and recalls that his concern for others, specifically his family, was greater than his concern for himself.
One night this last year, Griggs said he recalled walking down to the church and finding Egbert and his son Andy waxing the floor of the church’s gymnasium just because it had to be done. "If I hadn’t seen them, no one would know," Griggs said.
Like Egbert, his friend Steve Plaster is doing what he thinks has to be done. Plaster — Egbert’s friend since 4th grade — worked at the Bryant Ave. shop for six years, taking over the shop as Egbert’s illness progressed.
Plaster said he’ll keep the store open till early May to return all repair items to customers, then close his friend’s business for good.
Until then, a sign in the window of Egbert’s business reads, "We’ll miss you Show Wizard Jon Egbert."