Eleanore Papp Weiner of Leeds & Son, 85

Eleanore Papp Weiner, the woman who co-founded Leeds & Son in the Coachella Valley of California more than 60 years ago, passed away Tuesday in Rancho Mirage. She died peacefully surrounded by her children and grandchildren. She was 85 years old.
 
“We are extremely saddened by the loss of our mother,” says daughter Riki Stein. “She was an extraordinary woman who was not only a role model within our family but she touched many lives here in the Valley with her elegance, graciousness, and unique ability to make everyone feel special.”
 
Eleanore Papp Weiner was born Dec. 3, 1922 in Pittsburgh, Pa. After graduating from high school, she worked as a buyer and model for Gimbels, a major American department store of that era. In 1946 she met her husband-to-be, Edward Harold Weiner, and after getting married they moved to Bullhead City, Ariz. While Edward worked as an engineer on the Davis Dam, Eleanore managed their first jewelry and variety store.
 
“My mother was beautiful and sophisticated but also a courageous and strong woman,” says son Terry Weiner. “She was a deeply caring and compassionate soul who truly cared about family and all those she met.”
 
In 1947, Edward and Eleanore moved to the Coachella Valley where they opened the valley’s first Leeds Jewelers in downtown Indio. The name came from combining his name (Ed) and her name (El). At one point, the couple owned six stores throughout the region: Yuma, El Centro, Indio, Blythe, Barstow, and Palm Springs.
 
While Edward ran the business in the back, Eleanore quickly became the “face” of the store, excelling in customer service by her genuine interest in the many lives she touched. For Eleanore, it was much more than business transactions and selling jewelry, it was about the people and the milestones in their lives that she was able to be a part of on a personal level.
 
Because of Eleanore’s unique flair and sincere love of community, Leeds and Son Fine Jewelers became and remains today a hallmark establishment, and one of the oldest and most respected jewelers in the desert. The desert landmark that began in 1947 is now operated by son Terry Weiner and daughter Riki Stein, with grandson Brett Stein a senior account executive.
 
“Mother was our teacher, she taught us not only the jewelry business but about life, living, graciousness, giving back and making everyone feel important,” says Riki Stein. “She was as kind and lovely on the inside as she was on the outside.”
 
Aside from her business acumen, Eleanore was a huge fan of the Los Angeles Lakers and rarely missed a game.
 
Eleanore Papp Weiner is survived by her three children, Wendy Shaw and son-in-law Rick Shaw of Phoenix, Riki Stein of Cathedral City, and son Terry Weiner of Rancho Mirage; four grandchildren, Ryan Rand of Phoenix, Brett Stein of Palm Desert, Lindsay Stein of Cathedral City, and Alexandra Weiner of Rancho Mirage; two great grandchildren, Hunter Rand and Sidney Rand, both of Phoenix, Ariz.; and, brother, Elmer Papp and sister-in-law Dee Papp of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
 
She was preceded in death by her husband, Edward Weiner on September 24, 2002.
 
A Celebration of Life is scheduled for Jan. 11, 2:00 p.m., at La Spiga Ristorante, 72557 Highway 111, Palm Desert.
 
The family suggests memorials to the Los Angeles Lakers Youth Foundation, 555 N. Nash Street, El Segundo, CA 90245.