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

Lentz, one of the last cobblers in Greater Portland, who was known for his kindness and outgoing personality, died on July 24 from complications of vascular dementia. He was 83.

Lentz began working at Roy’s Shoe Shop fitting shoes when he was 16 years old. He repaired the soles of men’s shoes and work boots and women’s high heels and dress shoes. He made repairs to handbags, briefcases, suitcases, belts, jackets and baseball gloves.

Stephen Lentz. Photo courtesy of Dan Lentz

In 1981, Stephen and his wife, Nancy Lentz, bought the business from George Roy Jr. and moved their family into the apartment above the shop. After he retired in 2010, Lentz would walk downstairs to polish shoes, do hand stitching, and wait on customers.

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

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


“He would add a drop of this and a drop of that until he fine-tuned it,” he said. “Sometimes he would have 7 to 10 pairs of shoes to dye. He was really good at that. He was good at shoe repairs and patching.”

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 dedicated father whose life centered around family and community. He was beloved by neighborhood kids and was known to pile them into his station wagon for trips to Riverton Pool to swim.

“He was like an adult kid,” his daughter said. “It was like having your dad be your friend. He brought us sledding and ice skating in the winter and sailing, hiking and canoeing in the summer. If there was a hiking trip planned, there was always kids from the neighborhood at any given time. He always included anyone.”

Lentz liked to help people and tinker with bikes, cars and boats. If someone’s car broke down in front of the shoe shop, he would offer to help. When a kid brought him a bicycle with a flat tire or busted 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 to a canoe and installed a centerboard 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 paddle the canoe to the boat, saying hi to everyone. He said his father taught him how to sail.


“He would sail into places he probably shouldn’t have at low tide when rocks were exposed. I would get up on the front of the bow and point out rocks to him, so he knew which way to steer. I was 10, 11, and 12 years old doing that. It was really great. What we must have looked like out there on that boat,” his son said laughing.

Lentz rode his bicycle to and from the shoe shop every day when he lived in the Riverton neighborhood. He had lifelong passions for sailing and hiking and enjoyed winter hikes at Mount Chocorua in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. His kids remembered hiking trips 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 of the things that my parents did with us,” his daughter said. “We went camping for 2 to 3 weeks at a time. They started camping at Mount Blue when it first opened. It’s something we always did. I camped with my girls there. Now, my daughter camps with her son there. When I think of my childhood, I think of all those awesome memories.”

Lentz and his wife lived above the shoe shop until 2019 when they moved into assisted living. Three months later, he got sick and went from the hospital to the Barron Center in Portland, where he died. There were long periods when they couldn’t see each other because of COVID-19. It was the longest time the couple had been 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 were still living on Stevens Avenue they would walk to the library holding hands. They truly loved each other.”

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