Outspoken. Warm. Full of “Hedda-isms.” Fan of shoes. Enemy of cilantro.
Anyone who met JCK’s former editor-in-chief Hedda Schupak would tell you that she made an impression. Following her death from cancer on Oct. 3, stunned colleagues shared their memories of the industry stalwart who spent 23 years at JCK, helping to guide it through some of its stormiest times.
Many talked about her sly sense of humor, strong opinions, and passion for the industry. They remembered how much she cared about her job, the industry, her staff, and the world in general. Many recalled times when Hedda was kind and gracious to them, even when there was nothing in it for her—that was simply how she was.
Here, JCK staffers past and present who worked with Schupak describe what made her so special.
Bill Furman, sales director, 1971–2017: “There was no one like Hedda. She was always extremely supportive. She helped keep the publication alive following the 1997 walkout. She would always tell you exactly like it was, but with a comic twist. I treasure the fun times that we shared in Basel, in Las Vegas, and at trade shows.”
Russell Shor, senior editor, 1980–1999: ”Hedda and I were inseparable friends. We told jokes on one another and had a lot of laughs, but what we really did for one another was push each other to continually evolve as professionals and human beings. There were numerous times I’d make a suggestion about the magazine, and she’d pull down her glasses and give me ‘that look.’ And I was able to help her through personal crises with a verbal equivalent of ‘that look’—or a bit of humor to help put things in perspective. On a professional level, people have paid tribute to her talent and passion, but most important was her integrity, that she would not compromise even at the risk of personal consequences.”
Robert Weldon, senior editor, 1991–1997: “Working with Hedda was a trip. She was fun, opinionated, and hardworking.
“When I moved to Pennsylvania, she became a trusted professional colleague and friend. One night, she was determined to show me Philadelphia. Her and another editor took me out to dinner. The choice was a Mafia-owned restaurant that had guards placed strategically around the neighborhood to keep things safe. The mama who made the spaghetti was just like Hedda: boisterous and opinionated. She was determined I should finish the meatballs, and hovered menacingly near the table.
“We had wine that evening. Way too much of it. It cemented our friendship and camaraderie for the ensuing years. I am so, so sorry to hear of her passing.”
Alisa Bonsignore, associate editor, 1996–1998: “I’m still in shock over the news. As a new writer back in the day, she had so much advice for how to be a professional, and to cultivate a presence that people would take seriously. Hedda was such a presence, such a force, that it’s hard to imagine the industry without her.”
Barbara Spector, managing editor, 1997–2000: “Before I even met Hedda, I knew I would be her friend. During my interview for the job I would eventually get at JCK, I was shown a magazine issue on which Hedda had made some very perceptive and clever notes. I immediately thought, ‘This is someone I want to get to know.’
“Hedda’s sparkling personality, sense of humor and kindness made her a joy to work with. She loved the jewelry industry and an artful turn of phrase, and her enthusiasm was infectious. She was generous and caring and stylish and witty. She saw the good in people and cultivated lasting friendships with a wide range of people worldwide. I am honored to have known her.”
Monica McLaughlin, production editor and writer, 1997–2004: “It was wonderful (and heartbreaking) to witness the vast outpouring of grief and love that spread across the industry the second we all heard the news about Hedda. But I would expect nothing less, because in addition to being a whip-smart, dogged reporter and a Monty Python–quoting goofball, she was a true champion of the jewelry world. She knew how to lead, support, and motivate her people in the face of almost constant corporate turmoil, and we loved her for it.
“Hedda was also my mentor, even though I was massively intimidated by her at first. The clothes, the shoes, the brain—she was a lot, especially to a lowly assistant production editor who knew nothing about anything. But we immediately bonded over our cats and our accursed curly hair, and after I’d begun to find my feet in the industry, I asked her if I could give writing a try. She enthusiastically agreed because she had once been a production editor with aspirations too. Her guidance—and extensive edits—made me so much better, and everything I’ve done in the years since has been built on the foundation she gave me. It was a privilege and an honor and a heck of a lot of fun to know her. Damn it, Hedda. I miss you.”
Randi Gewertz, advertising sales director, 1997–present: “Hedda was a force—determined, creative, and passionate. She had strong opinions and never shied away from an argument. I respected her and loved reading what she had to say. She was such an icon in the industry. I will miss her vision and her strength of conviction.”
Richard Dalglish, managing editor, 1998–2010: “Hedda was naturally magnetic and drew people to her. You could tell she was genuinely interested in everyone, and it amazed me how many close friends she had from literally around the world. She was smart and knowledgeable beyond her passion for the jewelry industry, so it was always fun and often enlightening to talk to her, especially with her great sense of humor. She gave me my all-time favorite job description: ‘Your job is to keep me sane.’ I miss you, Hedda.”
On Facebook, Schupak’s husband, Jim Baum, wrote: “Please know that Hedda’s family is overwhelmed with the outpouring of love being shown by the industry.”
Upper Merion Township, where Schupak lived in Pennsylvania, is flying its flag at half-staff this week to honor her three decades of community work, Baum said.
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