Entry for March 03, 2007

Here’s the article that ran in today’s Roanoke Times about Harriet and below that her obituary.

“Retailer’s wife left lasting image: Harriet Davidson was married 63 years to the son of the founder of the Davidsons stores” by By Rob Johnson

The first time Sigmund E. Davidson saw her photo in a high school yearbook, “I fell in love with that picture. Later I fell in love with her.”

Davidson, the retired president of the Joseph Davidson Inc. clothing stores, recalled the captivating woman who became his wife of 63 years, Harriet Cohen Davidson, on Friday. She died Thursday of multiple myeloma at age 81.

Her photo was first shown to him by some fellow competitors at a tennis tournament in Winston-Salem, N.C., where she grew up. They encouraged him to ask her out. “Our first date was April 3, 1942. We sat in my car and talked until five in the morning,” he said.

When Davidson asked Harriet’s father for permission to marry her — “We did that sort of thing in 1944” — the answer was no.

“I was home on leave from the Army, and he said his daughter wasn’t going to marry a private. So we eloped.”

The couple came to Roanoke in 1945, when Davidson went to work in one of the stores founded by his father, Joseph. Harriet worked for a few years in the Davidsons store located at Towers Shopping Center as a buyer and manager of the Sugar & Spice Room, which specialized in women’s apparel.

The couple raised three children: Bonnie, now a psychological counselor in Bethesda, Md.; Steve, a Roanoke real estate broker; and Larry, who runs the retail business.

Harriet had a high profile in Roanoke’s Jewish community, and once served as president of the Temple Emanuel Sisterhood. She was widely recognized for her work for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and honored as Mother of the Year in 1993.

She left behind seven grandchildren, and a lasting image with her son, Steve. “My mother could cut to the chase as fast as any human being. Disagreeing is easy, but making your point hearable isn’t. She could do that.”

*

Born on July 15, 1925 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Harriet Cohen Davidson succumbed to Multiple Myeloma on March 1, 2007. Harriet came to Roanoke in 1945 after her marriage to Sigmund E. Davidson in January of 1944. She was continuously involved with many nonprofit organizations in the Roanoke Valley. A pillar in Roanoke’s Jewish Community, Temple Emanuel particularly, she served in many capacities and gracefully donned several hats. Harriet actively served on the boards of Planned Parenthood and Mill Mountain Theatre, participated in the efforts of Meals-on-Wheels, was a past President of the Temple Emanuel Sisterhood, held a lifetime membership with Hadassah, and dedicated herself as a Big Sister with Big Brother/Big Sister. Due to her immense altruistic efforts, she was honored with the Perry Kendig Award for Volunteer Services in the Arts, recognized by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and awarded with Mother of the Year in May of 1993. Harriet worked in the background of the family business as the buyer and manager of Davidsons’ Sugar & Spice Room, and was always an integral part of any major decision. As an avid reader with a passionate appetite for life, she belonged to many reading and discussion groups. Harriet always was a step ahead in her innate mission to make the world a better place, causing those around her to feel flooded with love and optimism, whether through her pragmatic viewpoints, supportive words, or warm loving smile. Armed with a magnetic charisma, she always went out of her way to seek out and embrace newcomers in any situation, inviting people into her home and life. Considered wise, compassionate, loving, unwavering, and open-minded, her advice and companionship was sought out by both family and friends. Her universal empathy profoundly touched everyone who was fortunate enough to experience her force. She is survived by her husband of 63 years, Sigmund E. Davidson; sister-in-law, Miriam Davidson Leeds; children, Bonnie and Alan Hammerschlag, Larry and Janice Davidson, Steve and Sherry Davidson; grandchildren, Jennifer Haskins, Rebecca Haskins, Louis Davidson, Micah Davidson, Tiffany Davidson, Douglas Davidson, and Samantha Davidson. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to one of the following organizations to which Harriet actively committed her time and resources: Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Hadassah, Planned Parenthood, Temple Emanuel, or another philanthropic organization of your choice. Funeral arrangements by Oakey’s Roanoke Chapel, and a service will be held at Temple Emanuel at 11 a.m. the morning of Sunday, March 4, 2007.

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