Celebrating with a Tyrone legend

Old friends and new gathered in downtown Tyrone yesterday to honor one of Tyrone’s most well-known residents — Morris Levine. Levine is best known for his show store, a fixture of the downtown for over 60 years, but he has also given back, along with his late wife, Bess, to the community many fold through years of service in such organizations as the Tyrone Kiwanis Club.
Tyrone Mayor Pat Stoner called him “a cherished friend” as she proclaimed yesterday a day for Tyrone to celebrate the birthday of a man who has given so much to the community.
Tyrone’s two state representatives, Representative Larry Sather and Representative Jerry Stern were also on hand to honor Levine.
“He is a friend,” Sather said. “He is someone that many in marketing could look to and, if you will, look up to. He sets an example — a high standard.” Sather then read a part of the citation issued by the Commonwealth’s House of Representatives paying tribute to Levine.
Stern, who is relatively new to the community, said that although he had just met Levine, his reputation had preceeded him.
“All the people and all your friends that I have spoken with have just said about what a great individual, what a great man and a true gentleman that you really are,” Stern said as he presented a card to Levine, along with a certificate honoring his 66 years of “dedicated service to the Tyrone Community.”
Chamber of Commerce President Jim Phillips presented a letter of commendation from the Chamber and recalled trips to the show store as a young boy — trips that ended with everyone’s favorite — the pretzel stick.
“Morris has been a vital part of Tyrone’s business community. His quality products and friendly demeaner helped to build a reputation that continues to reach far beyond Tyrone’s Borough limits,” Phillips said as he read the letter.
Todd Lewis, who now owns the store that still bears Levine’s name — Morris Levine’s Shoe Fly — welcomed folks to the store on Pennsylvania Avenue to pay tribute to Levine and shared his appreciation for his mentor Levine.
“I searched my heart for words to really describe my relationship with Morris and how much I appreciate him. In lacking my own words I searched the Scripture for some words eternal — words that were before us and words that will continue on after us,” Lewis said before he read Psalm 112.
“In reality, Morris’s generousity and service goes far beyond the walls of this store, far beyond the shoe business and far beyond our community,” Lewis concluded. “We’re blessed with him in our presence.”
After a rousing “For He’s A Jolly Good Fellow” and the traditional birthday song, Levine spoke briefly.
“I’m a little lost for words at this time,” he said. “I am grateful to be back in Tyrone, I really am. I didn’t know if I was going to make it back for a while, but thank God. He was with me and I am so happy to be back with my friends and former customers.” Levine thanked everyone for their kind words and support. He also introduced his daughter, Ida, and two granddaughters who traveled from New Jersey to celebrate with him.
“I just had to come back to Tyrone,” he said. “I honestly did. I was homesick.” Levine recalled the few years he was away, staying with his daughters as he recovered from illness. “But now I’m on my way. As my friend George Stever said this morning, ‘We’re playing golf tomorrow morning.’”