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Sad news: Lee Kinney of The Custom Foot has passed away

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

This is really sad; I knew he had been sick since last year, but didn't know much else. He made my first footbeds (wait, my second, after a bad pair from Surefoot)  at Mountain Miser probably 12 or 13 years ago, and yes I still have them. Such a kind sweet guy. RIP.



Bootfitter Lee Kinney, who changed lives one foot at a time, has died

By Jason Blevins
The Denver Post

It is not a stretch to say Lee Kinney changed lives.

The pioneering bootfitter, who spent hours handcrafting footbeds and ski-boot liners for each of his clients, enabled Colorado athletes to play without pain.

"There are a lot of happy feet out there because of Lee," his close friend Kiki Sayre said. "He had such an impact on so many people."

Kinney died Monday after a year-long battle with bone cancer. He was 68.

It didn't take long for Kinney to develop a loyal following at The Custom Foot, a shop he founded in the Colorado Outdoor Sports store at Speer Boulevard and Bannock Street in 1987. In the early 1990s, they followed him to Mountain Miser in Englewood, where he developed a reputation as the region's top bootfitter and sculptor of custom orthotics and footbeds.

"Back in the '80s, Lee was one of just a handful of genuine bootfitters in the U.S.," said Steve Cohen, the former editor of SKI Magazine who now is CEO of the bootfitting empire MasterFit Enterprises, in a statement about Kinney that was released Wednesday by friends and family. "He helped move the art and science of bootfitting and custom insole making out of its infancy."

Kinney demanded a few hours of a client's time to craft footbeds and liners, a meeting that most his clients cherished as much as their orthotics. Kinney, a veteran backcountry skier and fly fisherman, could thrill with tales of his adventures.

"Unlike a lot of people in the foot business, he was as active as any of us, out there doing the same stuff," said David Goodman, who owned the Mountain Miser.

When a nasty motorcycle crash in 2000 left Goodman hobbling on two shattered ankles, Kinney labored to form the perfect footbeds for Goodman's shoes.

"Because of Lee Kinney, I walk without a limp," said Goodman, who regularly visited The Custom Foot on South Broadway to replace worn-out footbeds. "He worked with me so closely to tweak my joint spacing via the foot and alleviate my pain. I'm scared what I'm going to do without him now."

An unwavering craftsman, Kinney kept abreast of the latest technological advancements in ski boots and orthotics with regular trips to Europe, where he trained with leading shoe and boot makers.

Kinney's clients include mountaineering film producer David Brashears, former Denver Nuggets center Bison Dele and outdoor photographer John Fielder.

Podiatrists and chiropractors often directed their patients to Kinney, whose appointment schedule was booked out months in advance.

Kinney used a French-made machine called a SIDAS VAC system, one of the few in the U.S., which creates a precise negative of the foot in a standing position. Kinney then molded a footbed from the impression.

"Lee built The Custom Foot into one of the most respected specialty bootfit shops in the country. If you wanted your boots to fit right in Denver, Lee was the guy to see," Cohen said. "But he was more than a technician; he was a great guy. He had a calm, classy and reassuring demeanor. Everybody felt comfortable around Lee."

Services for Kinney have yet to be planned but will likely be announced throughTheCustomFoot.com.

Jason Blevins: 303-954-1374, jblevins@denverpost.com or twitter.com/jasonblevins



post #2 of 9

sad but interesting life. Bone Cancer I've heard is one of the tougher ones in terms of pain. Great he helped so many people and moved the industry forward.

post #3 of 9
Thanks for posting the news. Lee certainly changed my personal entry into skiing. I had thought he didn't seem well last time we were there but had no idea. I literally have a note on my desk right now to call him for some alignment work frown.gif

Sad news, RIP.
post #4 of 9

I never met him (that I know of) but that is quite the write up.  Sad to see him go. 

post #5 of 9

This is sad news indeed. Lee was a fine man and passionate about his work. He had as much experience or knowledge as any of us and still had a thirst for more.


We only met a few times, always saying we should get together and share ideas. I guess we both waited too long.



post #6 of 9

Whoa, sad news indeed.  Definitely regarded as a top boot fitter around here.  I never had anything fit by him, but have had a couple friends that had, and they had nothing but good things to say about him.

post #7 of 9

Lee was a friend of mine for 28 years and I worked for him for five years. I saw him do miracles on partial amputees, RA feet, and in general, some pretty effed up feet. He was part Pedorthist, part magician and quite an artisan. I visited him a couple of times while he was in hospice, the last time being the Wednesday before he passed. I was having some back difficulties that day, and even being on massive pain killers Lee looked at me and said "you are in pain aren't you?"

Starting to cry again while writing this...

post #8 of 9
NayBreak, just wondering when were you last there?

I saw Lee in June and he did seem like he was drained but he was pushing himself quite a bit. We talked about Loveland quite a bit, you could tell he was absolutely in love with that place.

I had actually been planning on calling him in the coming weeks as well frown.gif

R.I.P Lee
post #9 of 9
I think it was March. My wife is one of those super in tune with other people types and I have learned to not question her....
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