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He knew people and he knew their feet.

That combination made Maurice Seigel not only a successful businessman, but also one loved by family, friends and thousands upon thousands of customers.

just seemed to understand people, fellow downtown icon Fred Kingsmill said. was an institution. longtime owner of the family downtown shoe store, died Thursday, leaving behind memories of a different era of London and a deeply grieving family.

was an absolutely great dad, his son, Jeff Seigel, said. always came first. His standard line was, family not for sale, but the rest is negotiable. in 1925, Maurice Seigel took over the family shoe store at 129 Dundas St. in 1954. To that store, he added a landmark warehouse at Clarence and York streets and settled in for decades of putting shoes on people feet.

Farmers, factory workers, businesspeople Seigel had shoes for everyone in one of the most competitive retail markets around.

In downtown heydays of the 1970s and 1980s, there were 16 shoe stores in a block and a half, Jeff Seigel remembers.

Seigel shoes drew customers from far and wide.

gave a lot of service for a very low price and he insisted on quality. He always treated people the same, no matter where they came from. had an amazing grasp of his product and his customer, said Kingsmill, himself no slouch in the retail world after years of running the family department store.

always knew you were going to find what you needed. He had amazing organizational skills and a loyal staff, Kingsmill said.

was constantly there. I don ever remember going into that store without being aware of him. father managed to balance family life and the busy store, partly, his son said with a laugh, by making sure his children worked there while growing up.

always had time for family. father loved to fish and once caught so much perch in Goderich, he left full bags of the fish on his friends front porches.

Seigel donated hundreds of pairs of shoes to the annual Hadassah Bazaar, and made sure immigrants moving to London got proper footwear, his son said.

Closing the downtown store in 1998 was a difficult decision, but his father realized the market had changed for shoes.

After retiring, main concern was making sure his wife was taken care of, working around the house, Jeff Seigel said.

In a testament to his father love of family and need to work hard, Jeff Seigel went in to his own shoe store on Saturday; he needed to take his mind off his father death: family is taking it very, very hard. I am having a very hard time with it. leaves behind his three sons, five grandchildren, one great grandchild and his wife, Shirley, three months shy of their 64th anniversary.
marco polo s ship He knew the feet of Londoners better than anyone