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Burt Shavitz, Co-Founder Of Burt's Bees, Dies At 80

Burt Shavitz, who co-founded the natural cosmetics company that used his iconic image, died Sunday in Bangor, Maine, surrounded by family and friends.

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Burt Shavitz, who co-founded the natural cosmetics company Burt's Bees before it was bought by Clorox, died Sunday in Bangor, Maine, at age 80.

He was surrounded by friends and family when he died, the Associated Press reported.

Shavitz died of respiratory complications, a spokesperson for Burt's Bees said.

Before Shavitz moved to Maine, he served in Germany for the U.S. Army and was a photographer in New York City for Time-Life.

He later moved to Maine as a hippie and started to sell honey. It was there he picked up a hitchhiker, Roxanne Quimby, who was a single mother and back-to-the-lander.

The two became partners in the 1980s, when Quimby began making beeswax candles from Shavitz's honey and selling them at farmers markets.

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An image of Shavitz, featuring his iconic beard, was made for labels on the products, which expanded from candles to lip balms, soaps, face washes, lotions, and more.

Their partnership fell apart in the 1990s, when Quimby moved the business to North Carolina. Shavitz said in a 2014 Associated Press article that Quimby forced him out of the company.

In 2007, Clorox purchased Burt's Bees from Quimby for $925 million.

The documentary Burt's Buzz follows Shavitz in his later years, as a spokesman for Burt's Bees, who is contracted by Clorox. In the documentary, Shavitz sounds ambivalent about his end of the deal, focusing on how happy he is to live off many acres of land in Maine.

On his land, he lived in a humble home with no hot water, which is juxtaposed in the documentary with his travels to Asia as a famous spokesman for the company.

"Burt Shavitz, our co-founder and namesake, has left for greener fields and wilder woods," a statement on the company's website said. "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."

Our co-founder and namesake, Burt Shavitz, has left for greener fields and wilder woods, but his spirit lives on.

Michelle Broder Van Dyke is a reporter and night editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Hawaii.

Contact Michelle Broder Van Dyke at michelle@buzzfeed.com.

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