BANGOR, ME – Burt Shavitz, the wild-bearded beekeeper, co-founder and namesake of the natural care product company Burt’s Bees, died on July 5 due to respiratory problems. He was 80.
Born in Manhattan on May 15, 1935, Shavitz was raised in Great Neck, NY. He spent some time in the army and later worked as a photographer for Time and Life magazines. As a photojournalist, Shavitz managed to capture New York City’s key figures in the civil rights movement, beat poets, artists, and images central to the environmental movement of the 1960s, according to a company statement.
He later moved to Maine, where he met artist Roxanne Quimby, who would sell his beeswax candles at local fairs. The pair later developed a lip balm, which is still the company’s best-selling product today and officially launched Burt’s Bees in 1984.
Quimby later bought out Shavitz’ stake in the company, which was eventually acquired by Clorox Co in 2007 for more than $900 million.
“As a beekeeper, he connected intimately with the bees, whose profound relationship to humans, our food and our environment is only now being more fully understood while in peril,” read a company statement. “As an icon and namesake, he was and still is the inspiration for Burt’s Bees—our natural products that many around the world have grown to love, the sustainability practices we all champion, and the offbeat, cheerful personality that shines through that school bus yellow he loved so much. He defines this brand in immeasurable small and deep ways that we continue to discover.”