May “The Bee Man’s” beard live on in the hearts and minds of us all.
The famed beekeeper, thrust into the spotlight as the co-founder and namesake of popular natural cosmetics brand Burt’s Bees, died on Sunday aged 80. According to a representative of the company Burt’s passing was the result of respiratory complications. He was surrounded by family and friends in Bangor, Maine.
Burt’s Bees have honoured his legacy on their website.
“We remember him as a bearded, free-spirited Maine man, a beekeeper, a wisecracker, a lover of golden retrievers and his land. Thanks for everything, Burt. You will live in our hearts forever.”
Burt’s legacy began when he was selling honey to make ends meet as a nature loving hippy. That was until he met Roxanne Quimby, a single mother with whom he connected after a chance hitchhiking encounter. Impressed by her industrious independence, Burt eventually partnered with Roxanne in the 1980’s to create natural cosmetic products from his bee’s wax, a by-product of his honey making endeavours.
An early stamp carving of Burt used to label their goods soon became the symbol of a global brand, rendering him a cult-icon. The company reached unprecedented heights, being sold to Clorox for close to a billion dollars.
Despite a falling out in 2007, Roxanne Quimby reported to the Associated Press of her loss. “Burt was an enigma; my mentor and my muse. I am deeply saddened.”
Although known as a quirky woodsman of sorts, Burt actually grew up in New York as a photographer for Time-Life Magazine and is an army veteran who served in Germany during the war. In recent years he shot to stardom amongst the bearding community following the release of the Jody Shapiro documentary, Burt’s Buzz.
The rise in popularity of beard growing has earned the reclusive Burt Shavitz a following who admire his commitment to both his craft and the natural environment. With grooming products finding pride of place in the bathroom cabinets of many beardsmen, Burt’s influence on the wider community of makers is more than welcome.
His concern for the environment was clear through his choice of living quarters and sustainable practices. During the later years of his life, he chose to live without running water in a converted turkey coop. Perched nicely in the woods, he passed time by appreciating the natural beauties that Maine is known for. He dedicated himself to a simple life with little needs and aside from being the brand’s namesake, chose to separate himself from Burt’s Bees completely.
“If there is one thing we will remember from Burt’s life, in our fast-paced, high-tech culture, it’s to never lose sight of our relationship with nature,” the company said in a statement.
The Burt Shavitz legacy lives on
As we say farewell to Burt, may we remember him for the values he bestowed upon those around him. As a community, may we consider the key points of importance raised by this fellow beardsman. Let us honour his legacy through a mutual respect for the natural wonders that give us so much.
The plight of the bees were among Burt’s greatest concerns. With increasing pollution and disruptions to their ecosystems, nurturing global bee populations should be among some of our foremost environmental conservation efforts. Posing a grave threat to human survival, plummeting bee numbers impact man at the highest levels on our food chain.
Bees play a vital role in the pollination of plants vital to to the production of fruits and vegetables that we as humans commonly take for granted. In fact no other single animal species plays a more significant role in this process. The greatest modern scientific mind, Albert Einstein stated, “Mankind will not survive the honeybees’ disappearance for more than five years.”
So as we remember Burt Shavitz, let us pay homage to his achievements by doing something positive through which his name can live on. Keep that in mind as you share your stories, thoughts and condolences across social media using #BurtLivesOn.