Letters to the Editor: A Utah boot maker’s touching story of grief and devotion

Boot maker
Randy Merrell and Preston Barker, his apprentice and business partner, work together to remove the outsole of a client’s boot at Merrell’s workshop near Vernal, Utah, on Sept. 23, 2019.
(Isaac Hale / For The Times)

To the editor: Reporter Thomas Curwen’s poignant story of his quest to find hiking boots for his size 17 feet and the religiously devout cobbler in Utah who served him took me back 61 years.

Then, my shoe size matched my age as a 14-year-old ninth-grader. The only shoes available and affordable in my size were “old men’s style,” not a shoe that a teenager would want.

Acknowledging my need to fit in, my mother saved babysitting money to buy shoes more suited for a boy than an old man. It was an extravagant purchase for a family of modest means, one that touches my heart all these decades later.

Larry Lasseter, Brea



To the editor: Though a nonbeliever, I enjoyed reading about the Utah shoemaker’s positive religious experiences. It was a welcome change from so many reports lately relating the downside of religious conceits indulged in our country.

Randy Merrell, a devout member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, experienced an incredible run of disheartening tragedies, but somehow found solace in his beliefs. While I find many LDS tenets fanciful and off-putting, I am glad they have sustained him.

Where Merrell seems to abide his faith without striving to impose it on nonbelievers or affecting pompous piety, he speaks well for the diversity of belief systems that thrive under our democracy’s religious freedom. If only the more sanctimonious religious adherents might learn from Merrell’s inspiring example.

Edgar M. Martinez, Orcutt, Calif.


To the editor: Curwen’s piece was the most beautiful and inspiring article I have ever read. Thank you so much for printing this. The L.A. Times touches the soul as well as the mind.

Nancy Hart, Carlsbad