Remembering Sunny Friedman

Very sorry to hear about the death of Sarah “Sunny” Friedman, of Sarah Leonard Jewelers in Westwood, Calif., at age 91.

One of the first big profiles I did at National Jeweler was on Sunny and Lenny, whose store (then called Crescent) was being inducted into the magazine’s Retailer Hall of Fame. Both Sunny and Lenny were ideal interview subjects—warm, welcoming, super-friendly, and full of interesting stories and thoughts on retail.

I can’t find that story online, but I can bring you some excerpts from this piece in the UCLA Daily Bruin, from around the same time, which covers a lot of the same territory:

After nearly 50 years of marriage, Lenny Friedman has never forgotten to give his wife, Sunny, flowers for any special occasion. But some might consider it cheating, considering Lenny gives Sunny a rose on every day of their marriage.…

Since the Friedmans came to the village in 1946, many merchants have come and gone, but after 50 years, Crescent Jewelers is now Westwood’s oldest merchant.…   

When the Friedmans moved from Chicago, Ill. to the village, a prosperous future was a dream, but not necessarily a certainty. Money was tight for the family during their early years in Westwood.

Their eldest daughter, Linda Abell, recalled her modest childhood. 

“We were so poor that my parents couldn’t afford to buy me a new box of crayons,” she said.

She attributed the business’ growth to her parent’s customer service. 

“Whenever people would come in for a tiny repair that was no big deal, the client would ask ‘How much?’ and my dad would respond, ‘Just a smile and a thank you.’ Meanwhile, they were sitting on orange crates in the living room at home,” she recalled. “And we still do things today for a smile and a thank you.”…

Although the Friedmans may have lacked a substantial savings account at the time, their home was never dreary because of it, Linda Abell said.

“’My childhood was like a fairy tale,” Abell reminisced with a grin. “There was always laughter and singing and genuine happiness. We were really a family. Even though my parents were trying to build up the business, they would always be home in time for dinner and we would all sit down together to eat.”

The Friedmans’ love for their family members is something that seems to have been passed down through generations, Arianne Abell said.

“(My grandparents) have had a wonderful relationship,” she said. “You’ve never seen two people who have been married so long so much in love.”

Sunny is survived by Lenny, her husband of 61 years; three children; five grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. Donations can be made in her memory to Jewelers for Children

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JCK News Director