Isaac A. Ovadia was the son of immigrants, a downtown Seattle jeweler whose passion for art framed much of his life. For 21 years, he and his wife operated Allen's Fifth Avenue...
Isaac A. Ovadia was the son of immigrants, a downtown Seattle jeweler whose passion for art framed much of his life.
For 21 years, he and his wife operated Allen’s Fifth Avenue Jewelers, across the street from the original Nordstrom store.
But it was with his sketches and paintings that Mr. Ovadia made his most lasting impression, his family said.
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A man who traveled the world, seldom without his sketch pad, he died of a heart attack on New Year’s Eve at age 91.
“My grandfather was everything that the quintessential grandfather would be,” said his granddaughter Leigh Barer Hunt. “He taught me to play gin rummy. We shared a love of ice cream.” His favorite: jamoca almond fudge.
And he had the best family policy, she recalls: “No discipline for the grandkids. I feel very fortunate to have had him in my life.”
He was born Nov. 1, 1913, in Seattle to immigrant parents from the Turkish island of Marmara, the second of six children. At age 10, he began working. He was a pharmacy delivery boy, sold flowers and eventually acquired a newspaper stand.
He graduated from Garfield High School in 1932 and the University of Washington in 1937.
The following year, he married his high-school sweetheart, Mary.
He never lost his love for art.
Friends and strangers, impressed by his sketches and paintings, commissioned his work, his family recalled.
“He possessed a keen and accurate eye for interpreting the reality around him and had a whimsical, magical way of portraying it,” said his daughter Shirley Barer, a former art teacher. “Whether sketching his travels around the globe or working on a privately commissioned portrait, he always delighted in the artistic process.”
In 1967, he and his wife consolidated three stores they owned in West Seattle, the University District and along Third Avenue into Allen’s Fifth Avenue Jewelers. Ovadia designed much of the store’s jewelry, and his wife created its signature window displays.
Some in the neighborhood still remember it.
Jerry Roberts of Fox Gem Shop on Fifth Avenue remembers “a wonderful little store.”
“Back then Fifth Avenue was uptown,” Roberts said, adding, “It was obvious he was attuned to the arts and had a high appreciation for the arts because it came through in that store. I thought he was a very elegant guy.”
Rabbi Emeritus William Greenberg of Congregation Ezra Bessaroth in Seattle knew Ovadia for 40 years.
“He was an honest man who had a great deal of integrity,” Greenberg said. “I used to go fishing with him once in a while. We never caught anything.
“He was a good fellow, a good friend.”
Mr. Ovadia is survived by his wife, Mary, of Bellevue; daughters Rosemary Ovadia of Bellevue and Shirley Barer of Marina del Rey, Calif.; son Albert Ovadia of Hidden Hills, Calif.; and several grandchildren.
A funeral is planned for noon today at Evergreen-Washelli Cemeteries, 11220 Aurora Ave. N. in Seattle. A graveside service will follow immediately at the Seattle Sephardic Brotherhood Cemetery, 1230 N. 167th St. in Shoreline.
Memorials can be made to the Congregation Ezra Bessaroth or to the Caroline Kline Galland Home.
Lornet Turnbull: 206-464-2420 or firstname.lastname@example.org