Willie Is Back! OB Legend Returns to His Corner

by on January 9, 2019 · 1 comment

in Ocean Beach

One of the most famous personages in Ocean Beach has returned to his corner at Newport and Cable – Willie is back. An absolute OB legend, Willie is back in front of his Shoe Shine shack behind the coffee kiosk at the corner.

Having been hospitalized for a year, he appeared to this reporter in good spirits and ready to chat with anyone who stops by to say hello. He told me he was 85 years old. He’s a former Marine and was in Korea in the early -50s. But Willie has been a mainstay on Newport Avenue for decades.

Photos by Frank Gormlie

Willie – the only African-American businessperson on Newport – has been doing business on OB’s main commercial street for nearly 50 years – first as an employee of a shoe repair shop on Newport and then later as the proprietor of his own “shop” at the corner of Newport and Cable.

The village has rallied at least twice this reporter can recall over the years to help Willie with his “shack”. Once – way back when – his shack was destroyed by fire and a new one was purchased for him by local donors. Then in November 2016, there were more issues with his structure and again, OBceans stepped up.

We wish Willie the best and hope he can manage to hang out in front of his “shop”. OB didn’t feel like OB when he wasn’t there. But now he’s back.

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Judi Curry judi curry January 9, 2019 at 12:37 pm

When I first moved to Ocean Beach in 1966, Willie had his shop set up inside Elms Department Store. My husband would always bring shoes in to have Willie work on while he shopped for clothing at Elms. Good memories.

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