Savior of soles: Edward J. Staniszewski, owner of Fishtown’s Star Shoes, dies at 88

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.••

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