Burt Shavitz, the founder of natural skin care company Burt’s Bees, died on July 5 in Bangor, Maine surrounded by family. The 80-year-old reportedly suffered from respiratory complications.

“Burt Shavitz, our co-founder and namesake, has left for greener fields and wilder woods,” read a statement on the Burt’s Bees homepage. “We remember him as a bearded, free-spirited Maine man, a beekeeper, a wisecracker, a lover of golden retrievers and his land. Above all, he taught us to never lose sight of our relationship with nature.”

The Associated Press writes:

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.

Shavitz’s story is pretty amazing: He was a hippie beekeeper making money by selling honey until he met a hitchhiker named Roxanne Quimby. In the 1980s, Quimby started making products from Shavitz’s beeswax, which ultimately formed the foundation for Burt’s Bees. The company made $20,000 in its first year of operations and quickly expanded to making lip balm, soaps and other cosmetics.

In 1999, Quimby bought Shavitz out of the company for around $130,000. In 2007, Clorox got it for $925 million.

The 2013 documentary Burt’s Buzz focused on Shavitz’s life post-cosmetics empire — in particular, how things ended up with Quimby, who later reportedly gave him $4 million and 37 acres. Shavitz insisted he wasn’t upset.

“I’ve got everything I need,” he said in an interview with the New Yorker. “A nice piece of land with hawks and owls and incredible sunsets, and the good will of my neighbors.”


Contact the author at joanna@jezebel.com.

Image via AP Images

Click here to view this kinja-labs.com embed.