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Remembering Leo, the Little Man of Lawrence

A still clip from 'Leo Beuerman: A Legacy'

Anyone living in Lawrence in the 1950s and '60s will likely remember a little man who used to sit on the sidewalk downtown, selling pencils from a little, red cart. His name was Leo Beuerman (BEER-mun). He was well-known on Massachusettes Street, not so much for selling pencils... but because of how he looked. Standing just three-feet tall, Beuerman was deaf and nearly blind. He also suffered from a rare disease that left him disabled and disfigured. In 1969, his life's story was turned into a documentary, which was nominated for an Academy Award. Today, a professor of special education is trying to revive interest in that documentary. Dr. Jim Payne grew up in Topeka, graduated from the University of Kansas and went on to teach special education at the University of Mississippi. KPR's J. Schafer spoke with Professor Payne about the life and legacy of Leo Beuerman.

That's Dr. Jim Payne, a professor of special education at the University of Mississippi. He was speaking with KPR's J. Schafer. Over the weekend, city officials re-dedicated a special, bronze plaque commemorating the life of Leo Beuerman. You can see it for yourself, outside Teller's restaurant on Mass Street. Watkins Community Museum has also been honoring Beuerman with a special exhibit, featuring Leo's little red cart.

You can order a copy of the Academy Award-nominated short documentary on Leo's life by visiting this website:

You can also call this number: (314) 703-6990  (Ask for Bryan Sullivan.)

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