May 23, 2014, file photo, Burt Shavitz poses for a photo on
his property in Parkman, Maine. Shavitz, a former beekeeper,
is the Burt behind Burt's Bees. A spokeswoman for Burt’s
Bees said Shavtiz died Sunday, July 5, 2015, at his home in
rural Maine. He was 80.
— The reclusive beekeeper who co-founded Burt's Bees, and whose
face and wild beard appeared on labels for the natural cosmetics,
died on Sunday. Burt Shavitz was 80.
A spokeswoman for
Burt's Bees said in an emailed statement Shavtiz died of
respiratory complications in Bangor, Maine, surrounded by family
Shavitz was a
hippie making a living by selling honey when his life was altered
by a chance encounter with a hitchhiking Roxanne Quimby. She was a
single mother and a back-to-the-lander who impressed Shavitz with
her ingenuity and self-sufficiency.
In the 1980s she
began making products from his beeswax, and they became partners.
partnership ended after Quimby moved the company to North Carolina
in 1994. The company continued to expand, but Shavitz moved back
to Maine. He has said he was forced out after having an affair
with an employee. In 2007, Clorox purchased Burt's Bees for $925
"Burt was an
enigma; my mentor and my muse. I am deeply saddened," Quimby
told The Associated Press in an email.
an undisclosed settlement — and 37 acres in remote corner of
Maine. He also continued to make appearances on behalf of the
"What I have
in this situation is no regret," he said last year while
sitting in a rocking chair in his home in Parkman. "The
bottom line is she's got her world and I've got mine, and we let
it go at that."
Though he is
known for being a character from the backwoods of Maine, Shavitz
grew up around New York, served in the Army in Germany and shot
photos for Time-Life before leaving the city.
He tried leaving
Maine once before, spending a winter on a warm island, but was
drawn back to the state. He was also the subject of a documentary,
"Burt was a
complex man who sought a simple life in pace with the seasons of
nature on his land," the company said in a statement.
"If there is one thing we will remember from Burt's life, in
our fast-paced, high-tech culture, it's to never lose sight of our
relationship with nature."
In recent years,
Shavitz lived in a cluttered house with no running water. A
converted turkey coop that used to be his home remained on his
property. He liked passing the time by watching wildlife.