Edward John Staniszewski, beloved Fishtown shoemaker and owner of Star Shoe Service for more than 60 years, died peacefully on Friday, Aug. 12, at age 88 from complications of a stroke suffered in late March.
Staniszewski grew up in Fishtown. He attended Penn Treaty Junior High School and Northeast Public High School. He later studied mechanical engineering at Drexel Institute of Technology (now Drexel University).
He also played trumpet and was an active member of The Penn Treaty Community Band.
Staniszewski served in the United States Navy during World War ll and afterward worked as a skilled machinist at Cramps Shipyard.
He later learned the art of shoemaking and eventually took ownership of Star Shoe Service at 311 E. Girard Ave. from his father, John, who died suddenly in the mid-1950s.
Staniszewski married local resident, Frances Oleykowski in 1950 and together, they became permanently woven into the rich tapestry of the Fishtown community, saving hundreds, if not thousands of soles as part of their shoe repair business.
The storefront property on East Girard Avenue was also their residence.
It was a place where Staniszewski’s daughter, Frances Elizabeth, born in 1955, would regularly welcome customers in her stroller as early as age two. She later became affectionately known by many as the “Shoemakers Daughter,” attending to countless customers from behind the counter, before finding her own career in health care.
Now an administrator at Thomas Jefferson University, Frances attributes much of her success to borrowing several pages from her father’s virtual book of business.
“As I grew older, I really enjoyed not only working with Dad, but getting to know his customers, becoming friends with them and learning about all different aspects of business, too,” she recalls.
Over many decades, Star Shoe Service has saved the soles of everyday citizens, business professionals, judges, politicians, educators, plumbers, electricians and everyone in between, including many of Philadelphia’s police officers and firefighters.
There was even a time when Star Shoe Service was called upon to repair the leather miter box of Cardinal Justin Francis Rigali, outgoing archbishop of Philadelphia’s Roman Catholic community.
In recognition of his longstanding and meritorious service to the Fishtown community and the American Legion, Staniszewski was honored in 2008 by American Legion Post 88, of which he was a member.
One of many signs that hung on a wall behind the cash register of the now closed shop, tells Ed Staniszewski’s story best — “We mend your shoe, patch the hole, build the heel and save your sole.”
Edward Staniszewski was a resident of Brandywine Senior Living in Moorestown, N.J., where he and his wife, Frances, have both lived for the last year.
He is survived by his beloved wife, Frances, his daughter, Frances Elizabeth, and son in-law, Eric W. Herr.
Staniszewski also is survived by his sister, Regina Pachucki, brother-in-law, Alexander Oleykowski, sister-in-law, Mary Oleykowski, and numerous nieces and nephews.
A Wednesday evening viewing is scheduled from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Kociubinsky’s Funeral Home, 307 E. Girard Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19125.
A Thursday morning viewing is scheduled at Kociubinsky’s Funeral Home from 9 to 10:15 a.m., followed by an 11 a.m. Funeral Mass at St. Laurentius Catholic Church, 1608 E. Berks St. (at the intersection of Berks and Memphis streets), Philadelphia 19125.••