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Harold Gardenswartz

Harold GardenswartzNative Denverite Harold Gardenswartz, a leading Western retail businessman and Albuquerque Jewish community leader, passed away Aug. 13, 2008 in Albuquerque at the age of 91.

Services were held Aug.15 at Congregation B’nai Israel with interment at Fairview Cemetery.

Mr. Gardenswartz was born in Denver in 1917, and grew up in a close-knit Jewish neighborhood on the West Side of Denver and Durango. He graduated from West High School in 1934 and from the University of Colorado in Boulder in 1939 with a BA degree in Business.

In 1940, he married Shirley Spieglelman. The couple recently celebrated 68 years of marriage.

He moved to Albuquerque in November, 1939, and opened H. Cook Sporting Goods. An original independent merchants in the downtown area, Mr. Gardenswartz followed with a store on Nob Hill in the ‘50s, then Winrock in the ‘60s.

In 1963, he started Harold’s Leathers Goods store, also in Winrock, and ran that for eight years. He operated the sporting goods stores until 1969 when he sold to Zales Corporation of Dallas.

In 1971, Harold and his wife Shirley moved to Dallas where he became president of the sporting goods division for Zales, opening and operating 42 stores in a period of five years. In 1974, he left Zales and returned to Albuquerque to take a position in advertising and marketing at the First Interstate Bank which he held until 1979.

In 1975, he opened Roberto’s Luggage store in El Paso Elcon Mall, in 1979 a second Roberto’s in Winrock, and then in Midland, Texas in 1981, finally selling all three stores in 1982.

He was associated with Gardenswartz Team Sales, 1984-88, until his retirement.

Mr. Gardenswartz was was treasurer of the Downtown Merchant Association, 1940-43, and a member of the Lions and Rotary Clubs and the Masonic Temple. He served on the St. Joseph Hospital Foundation Board, 1975-85, where he led fundraising efforts, and was head of the National Chain Store Drive for the United Way, 1976-77.

He was a member of the Albuquerque Country Club since 1944, and was the oldest member. He served as a member of the Albuquerque Air Quality Control Committee from 1975-77, and as president of the Albuquerque Jewish Federation, 1951-53. He received the Award of Merit from the UJA for having served as chairman of the Albuquerque Jewish Welfare Fund.

He was the Ski Ball Honoree in 1989 for helping to establish the ski industry in New Mexico. He was a member of B’nai Israel. He and his wife were instrumental in establishing the Ronald Gardenwartz JCC in 2000 and together received its Harold B. Albert Community Service Award and Presidential Award.

A statement from his family reads: “Mr. Gardenswartz was very generous with his time and resources with his community and his family. In addition to his sharp business instincts, he was known for his keen sense of humor; he enjoyed playing tricks on his friends and was often found dressing up for Halloween parties. He enjoyed golf, fishing and playing cards; he frequently had hot gin rummy games going with his friends, called the Gin Club, and at the Albuquerque Country Club. Family was very important to him and he organized yearly family reunions.

“Mr. Gardenswartz was considered a business icon in the Albuquerque community and a role model for his family on how to live life to the fullest with warmth, love, generosity, and spirit.”

Mr. Gardenswartz is survived by his wife Shirley; children Art (Sonya Priestly), Joann (Philip Carchman) and Bobbi (Gary Siegel); his grandchildren Seth, Dan, Rena, Rebecca, Jennie, David and Jonathan; and nine great-grandchildren.

Memorial contributions may be made to B’nai Israel, 4401 Indian School NE., Albuquerque, NM 87110 or the Ronald Gardenswartz JCC, 5520 Wyoming Blvd. NE Albuquerque, NM 87109.

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