Leaving the Summit County Courthouse after sitting down with Maurice Terrell for only five or six minutes was never disappointing.
All anyone had to do for an instantly warm, gratifying feeling, those who knew him said, was look down at the sidewalk.
The brightly shined shoes staring back from your feet would make your day.
Cynthia Lee, who has been a sheriff’s deputy for 20 years, said she will never forget her first meeting with Mr. Terrell some 13 years ago when she began her courthouse security beat.
“I had only been here for a couple of days, and he did my shoes. He said he was doing it on the house, because he wanted to show me how good he was,” Lee said.
Mr. Terrell, who ran a shoeshine stand at the courthouse since 1977, according to Beacon Journal archives, died April 19 after a long illness. He was 78.
Mr. Terrell, who would hang a “Gone Fishin’ ” sign on the chair above his cast-iron shoe rests every year when the winter weather came, spent his entire life in Akron.
He attended Akron Public Schools, then enlisted in the U.S. Army and served in the Korean War. He also was a chef at the Summit County Jail and at Akron’s Holiday Inn.
But to his scores of friends and legal professionals at the courthouse, he was so much more than that.
“What a wonderful man. I think he had the pulse of the courthouse,” attorney Walt Benson said.
“Every day here,” Deputy Lee said, “he always gave me a hug. I never missed a hug from him. He was just such a kind, giving man.”
A memorial placard, with a farewell wish and dozens of signatures from courthouse workers, lawyers and his many friends, was posted on a partition Friday near his stand in the old basement entrance near the elevator.
It said simply:
Enjoy the fishin’
Defense attorney Patrick Summers was one of many who signed the card, recalling Mr. Terrell’s fondness for fishing.
“See you by the peaceful waters in heaven,” Summers wrote.
One of Mr. Terrell’s best customers, attorney Kerry O’Brien, often left a bag with four or five pairs of shoes at the stand as a long day in the courtroom began.
“I might have been one of several who did that, because he could really give a good shoeshine,” O’Brien said. “He could make that rag pop so loud, you could hear it up on the third floor. He was really an artist.”
Talking to Mr. Terrell about life or sports, or just about anything that happened at the courthouse, attorney Eddie Sipplen said, also could make you smile.
“He’d seen a lot of attorneys come and go, and a lot of people come and go, and he was the hub. If you wanted to know what was going on, just stop down and get your shoes shined and you’d be caught up, real quick,” Sipplen said.
A memorial service was held Friday afternoon at Stewart & Calhoun Funeral Home on West Thornton Street in Akron.
Mr. Terrell is survived by two sons, two daughters, a sister, two brothers, nine grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren and four stepchildren.
Ed Meyer can be reached at 330-996-3784 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.