PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The longtime owner of a shoe repair shop in Wayland Square in Providence is being remembered by his loved ones as a larger-than-life father and grandfather.
Bruce Owensby of Smithfield was killed Sunday when police said his motorcycle was involved in a crash with a pickup truck on Lafayette Road in North Kingstown. Owensby was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. The occupants of the pickup truck were not injured, according to police.
Owensby, 60, has owned Wayland Square Shoe Repair since 1993 and has been in the trade for more than three decades, his daughters tell 12 News. The family has seen an outpouring of support since news of his passing spread.
“To see all of the love that they give … it just warms me from the inside out,” his daughter Jaclynn Russo said.
“It’s beautiful to hear about all these special relationships that we didn’t even know about,” daughter Jordan Owensby added. “So many people we didn’t even know were in his life who are like, ‘Bruce is my guy!’ He was so caring. He had the biggest heart of anyone I’ve ever met.”
Owensby was more than just a cobbler, they said; he was an artist.
“He loved getting his hands in a project that nobody else would take on. He loved the creative aspect of it.”
His daughters have fond memories of the shop where they both worked on Saturday mornings growing up. Now, they’re tying up loose ends to close it.
“This was his baby. He loved this. He loved this almost as much as he loved us and my kids,” Jaclynn said. “It’s going to be hard to watch this business go. It was probably one of the best times to spend with dad.”
The pair said their father was doing what he loved before the crash: driving home on his motorcycle after watching the Patriots game.
Owensby also leaves behind two grandchildren, and to make matters worse, he’ll be missing a major milestone in his daughter’s life next month.
“We hoped for another 40 years with our father,” Jordan said. “I’m getting married in a couple weeks and we’re devastated that he’s not going to be there.”
But they said they’re going to make the best of it as their dad would have wanted.
“We are going to celebrate, and he would want us to just spend every minute dancing and celebrating, so we’re going to try to keep him alive in that moment. It’s all we can do,” Jaclynn said.
The cause of the crash is still under investigation.
Owensby’s customers are encouraged to take their business to other cobblers in the area, including Providence Shoe Repair, Cayouette Shoe and Leather Repair in West Warwick, and Sharon Shoe Luggage & Leather in Sharon, Mass.
You can connect with the Owensbys here.