Lee's Story

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        Lee W. Risler Handcrafted Leather Sandals


    Lee Risler has been handcrafting leather sandals since 1963. In the sixties Lee handcrafted leather purses and wallets under the name of LeeGin Leather. After selling that very successful company in the early seventies, he traveled around the world surfing and creating his own Endless Summer. He settled for two years in New Zealand.

    After seeing the world he chose to settle in a small town in the California desert, a quiet community, located near the Big Bear Mountains. He resides there today, handcrafting leather sandals and raising three children with his wife Bryn. His oldest son Lee is 27 years old and lives in Mission Viejo, California with Lee's first wife Ginny. Lee built the home himself that he presently lives in and enjoys gardening, camping, fishing and surfing.

  Lee travels to Arts and Crafts Fairs throughout the western states of California, Arizona, Nevada, and Utah selling his handcrafted leather sandals. He is an award winning craftsman, having received awards from Tapestry in Talent, Tempe Festival of the Arts, and Fiesta de Las Artes.

    In March 2000, Lee was side swiped by a hit and run driver and knocked off a Los Angeles freeway. He was trapped in his car by his left arm, for three days before he was rescued by a Caltrans worker. His family was frantically searching for him, but were unable to find him because his car was hidden by dense trees that line the freeways. On the second day of his entrapment he self amputated three fingers and his thumb in an effort to free him self from the wreckage. He was within hours of death when he was rescued. Because of his severe dehydration and renal failure he was in critical condition when he arrived at St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood. After his rescue, doctors were unable to save his left arm that was damaged in the accident and his left arm was amputated above the elbow.

Hand Craftsmanship

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    This harrowing tale has received national news coverage. Lee has been interviewed by such prestigious reporters as Matt Lauer of the Today Show and Oprah Winfrey of the Oprah Show. He has appeared on Extra and Inside Edition television programs. He has appeared on all the major Los Angeles newscasts. In addition, the story has been printed in the Los Angeles Times and other papers throughout the United States, and in Esquire and In Motion magazines.

    Lee has made a remarkable receovery and despite the amputation of his left arm, continues to handcraft his leather sandals with the help of his wife Bryn and his son Rhett. His spirit is strong and cheerful, and he is happy to be alive to continue doing the work that he enjoys: making handcrafted leather sandals for his customers to enjoy.

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Lee and Bryn on the Today Show

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