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Saturday, December 07, 2013   (0 Comments)
Posted by: NSRA
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Tucson, AZ – (December 4, 2013) On November 14, 2013, the National Shoe Retailers Association inducted four new members into its Hall of Fame. They are: Jerry Levin, chairman, Lebo's, Inc., Charlotte, NC; the late retailers Howard Penn, Puritan Clothing Company of Cape Cod and Al Singer, Allan’s Shoe Stores, Bay City, MI; and the late Terry Armstrong, co-founder of shoe manufacturer SAS.

Jerry Levin grew up in the shoe retailing business, at Lebo's, Inc., founded by his father, Sidney, in 1923. He left college to manage the business full time when his father needed medical leave, and never looked back. He became first a full partner, then sole owner in 1964 when his father retired. Under his leadership, Lebo's grew into a multi-store retailer selling women's, men's and children's footwear, as well as Barbette Footwear and Dancewear, a line Levin created of ballet, tap, jazz, clogging and square dance shoes. Barbette products are also sold in many retail stores in the U.S. and abroad. Later, Levin launched Colorama Dance Costumes by Lebo's, sold through dance studios. He was elected to NSRA's Board of Directors in 1987, and later served first as vice chairman, then chairman, 1995-97, of the Board. He continues to be an active past chairman of NSRA, part of the eight-member informal Past Chairmen Advisory Council to NSRA's Board. Levin and his wife, Barbara, who have been married since 1951, have four children and several grandchildren. Both the senior Levins regularly attend NSRA events, where their friendship and advice is cherished.

Howard Penn and his brother Milton joined the family business, Puritan Clothing Company of Cape Cod, during the 1950s, building it into a four-location business that is still a family-held company. Penn's passion for the footwear part of the business led him to join the National Shoe Retailers Association, where his fellow retailers soon elected him to the Board of Directors. He served as chairman of the Board from 1991-93, and remained active with the Association as a past chairman until illness prevented him from attending meetings. In addition to his work on behalf of independent retailers, Penn was a firm believer in giving back to the community. He held leadership posts with the Jaycees, Boy Scouts, YMCA, Kiwanis Club, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, and several athletic associations and civic groups. He was also active with the Two Ten Foundation and as a member of the Cape Cod Synagogue.

Al Singer expanded the shoe store founded by his father Harry into a four-location business in Bay City, Michigan. He began his career working part-time for his father. After college, he became a sales representative for a series of footwear brands. In the early 1960s, he returned to Michigan, joining his father in the women's shoe business in 1964. He began expanding the inventory into sizes and widths, then into the comfort arena. By 1984, Singer was sole owner of the business and his wife, Pat, became his business partner. They added men's shoes and quickly grew the business to more than $3 million in annual sales. Singer's business success led to consulting work in design with several footwear manufacturers. He also used his business to raise funds for breast cancer research, with proceeds donated to the Virginia Clinton Kelly Research and Education Fund of the Arkansas Cancer Research Center. Singer was a tireless advocate and producer of jazz; from a second home in Phoenix, Arizona, he served simultaneously on the boards of directors of Jazz in Arizona Inc. and the Arizona Classic Jazz Society.

He produced concerts as fund-raisers, providing financial assistance to ailing individuals within the jazz industry and college scholarships to music students who intended to become professional musicians. Singer was elected to NSRA's Board of Directors in 1991; NSRA created the Al Singer Award in 2005 to honor him as a man whose contributions to NSRA and the nation he loved were broad and varied.

Terry Armstrong was a career footwear man who learned shoemaking at Maine's Northeast Shoe Co., where he worked for nearly 20 years. In the early 1970s, Armstrong, his wife Gena and their long-term friend Lew Hayden recognized that shoe manufacturing was moving from the United States to locations abroad, where labor was cheaper and easier to control. Fearing that the quality of footwear could be compromised as a consequence, Armstrong and Hayden decided to pursue a dream: They moved to Texas where, in 1976, Armstrong and Hayden founded San Antonio Shoemakers, which handcrafted every pair of shoes the founders sold. Today, the company has more than 100 stores in the U.S., nearly 100 franchises and a number of retail locations abroad. It was word-of-mouth that turned the shoes into a national brand; the company name was eventually shortened to SAS, with a focus on two promises: First, that "Life is a journey. Wear comfortable shoes.” and second, "Experience SAS – you'll be glad you did.”

About NSRA's Hall of Fame

NSRA opened its Hall of Fame in 2012, as part of the Association's Centennial Celebration. That year, NSRA admitted eight members to the select group:

  • the late Theodore (Ted) J. Altier, of Altier & Sons, Inc., Rochester, New York
  • William (Bill) Boettge, president of NSRA , 1984-2003, and currently executive director of the Pedorthic Foundation, Beaver Dam, Wisconsin
  • the late William (Bill) Burnett, Burnett Shoes, Union City, Tennessee
  • Bill Douglas, Bill Douglas's Shoe Box, Sugar Land, Texas
  • the late Lloyd W. Nordstrom, Nordstrom, Inc., Seattle, Washington
  • the late William (Bill) Rossi, DPM, author and footwear historian
  • the late Joseph (Joe) Shell, president of NSRA, 1975-1983 and
  • Stanley Strum, Leon's Fashions, Waco, Texas.

Induction into the Hall of Fame takes place during NSRA's annual Awards Banquet, held during the Association's three-day leadership conference each November. Photos and brief biographies of NSRA Hall of Fame members are available on the Association's website,, and at its headquarters office in Tucson, Arizona.

NSRA was founded in 1912 to represent independent shoe retailers and provide them with services, programs and resources that help them remain profitable and at the leading edge of retail. For more information, please visit


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