The Woodward Alumni Hall of Fame Association
Harold Jaffe Inducted 2006 - Class of 1939
Harold Jaffe was born in Council Bluffs, Iowa, on January 19, 1921 to immigrant parents from Latvia. They came to the U.S. from Eastern Europe around 1910. His mother, Jennie, died before Harold turned three years old. His father, Louis, was a jack-of-all-trades who did everything and anything to make a living to support Harold, his brother, and three older sisters. Louis also had the talent to repair and remake many things, including cars, musical instruments, and especially clocks and watches. Harold would eventually discover his talent and interest in these same areas.
The family moved to Toledo in 1924 and settled in the Warren-Sherman-Kent area. Harold went to Sherman Elementary and Woodward High School, graduating in 1939. Going to school and earning money during the great depression was a challenge. Harold, like most kids in those days, worked after school to help support his family. Despite all this, Harold did participate in “Play-Shop" or the equivalent to today's theater/drama productions.
After graduating from Woodward, Harold began working as a watchmaker’s apprentice in Toledo and Cleveland, doing repairs for other jewelry shops. He learned quickly and rapidly, gaining a reputation within the trade for quality work. Harold was drafted into the Air Force in 1942 and sent to England where he was involved in maintaining the sophisticated radar systems on large bombers. He returned to Toledo in 1945 and reestablished himself as one of the foremost watchmakers in the area.
In 1946 he met and married Shirley Elias. This year proved to be a BIG year for the Jaffe family-marriage, the start of a family, and opening his first jewelry store called Harold's Jewelry on Cherry Street close to St. Vincent's Hospital. Every few years Harold found new opportunities to grow. From 1949 to 1955 he moved the store three times: Cherry Street to Temperance, Michigan, to Petersburg, Michigan, to Perrysburg, Ohio, always building his reputation and business. In 1965 he made his biggest move. He opened a store in the Westgate area on Secor Road and changed the name to Harold Jaffe Jewelers. Harold was always an innovator. He brought in new fashions and unusual products. Plus, he could always be found in the store. The business grew and sons Jeff and Bruce built an expanded jewelry design and manufacturing facility. By 1969 they had doubled the size of the store. Their friendly, quality service reputation grew as well and in the summer of 1975 the Jaffe family was asked by Westgate Management to move into the Westgate Shopping Center. This move allowed younger son Ivan to join the organization.
In 1979, a second store was established in the South End of Toledo and was managed by son Bruce. The store flourished and grew, but due to Bruce's ill health the decision was made to sell this store. In June of 1985, a new store was opened on Monroe Street near Franklin Park Mall (Westfield Shopping town).The store remained there until the current store on Talmadge Road was opened in 2005.
In 1986, Harold, along with Thomas Bollin (another Woodward alumnus), established the Jaffe-Bollin Award to honor special students worthy of distinction in the senior class. Known today as the Jaffe Award, it is presented each spring at the Annual Academic Honors Banquet at Woodward. The award is given to a male and female student who excels in academics as well as extracurricular activities.
In 1980, Harold helped found the Toledo Jazz Society. Because of his support and achievement in the continuing growth of the Arts in the Greater Toledo Area, Harold was awarded the Community Impact Award in 1990 by the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo.
Harold Jaffe left a strong legacy to Toledo-ultimate customer satisfaction- the true hallmark of his business. This makes Harold Jaffe Jewelers a rare find in the world of self-serve shopping. Harold established strong educational programs, truthful advertising, accurate presentation of product, and value. Members of the Harold Jaffe extended family have been living these ethics for more than 60 years.