(DALLAS) - Harry Bock, who survived the concentration camps of World War II, then later moved to Dallas and built the widely respected Bachendorf’s jewelry stores while raising his family, died Monday, July 12 of natural causes at his home. He was 80 years old.
Harry Bock came from a long line of fine jewelers. His father, Abraham Bock, who founded Bock Jewelry Company in Dallas in the late 1940s, learned the trade from Harry’s grandfather in St. Petersburg in 1900.
Abraham Bock had a flourishing jewelry business up until 1939 when the Nazis took over Memel, which is now Lithuania. The Nazis confiscated his business and sent his family, including 11-year old Harry, to the Kovno ghetto, where they were forced into slave labor. Harry and his father were later sent to Dachau.
Through this ordeal, Harry lost his mother and two of his sisters. On May 2, 1945, two weeks before Harry’s 15th birthday, the American forces liberated them. Abraham had four brothers who settled in Dallas before the war and after a two-year waiting period in Munich, Harry and his father reunited with their family in Dallas in February 1947.
Abraham Bock started Bock Jewelry Company, in a downtown Dallas storefront repairing jewelry. He entered the diamond trade enroute to the return to making artistic jewelry. In 1953, just eight years after he was freed from the camps and six years after he came to America, Harry Bock graduated from Washington University in St. Louis, MO., with a major in retailing. While in school he worked part-time for 75 cents an hour at The Famous-Barr Department Store as a store floor walker in the Jewelry Department.
By all accounts, he found time for a social life. At a fraternity brother’s wedding party, he spotted a young woman named Elaine Hiken. In his typical straightforward style he walked up and asked her whether she would like to get married. Aghast, she ran away. Nevertheless, they were married in 1954.
After working for other retail jewelers in Dallas, Harry’s father took him into the company in 1955 for $400 a month. Like his father, Harry learned quickly about the jewelry business, but soon found he had a marketing and deal-making streak as well, particularly in the diamond trade. In 1962 Harry made his first trip to Belgium to buy diamonds. His business continued to grow and became the Harry Bock Company. The Bock enterprises today include Bachendorf stores in the Galleria, Plano and Preston Center.
Funeral services were held in July in Dallas. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial contributions be made to the Dallas Holocaust Museum, 211 North Record St., Dallas, TX 75201 or Kidney Texas, Inc., 6138 Berkshire, Suite 10, Dallas, TX 75225.