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Hedda Tamar Schupak-Baum, Feb. 4 ,1961 - Oct. 3, 2023 November 06, 2023 (0 comments)


King of Prussia, PA--What follows is the obituary, the November 17 memorial service and how to pay tribute to the life of Hedda Schupak, who died of complications from lung cancer on October 3.

The Upper Merion Township Building flew its flag at half-mast in her honor.

In Carlsbad, California, Russell Shor mourned the loss of his “bestie” and a jewelry industry icon.

And in Jaipur, India, Jennifer Heebner stood before a crowd of hundreds of jewelry industry professionals and shared the news of Hedda Schupak’s passing.

“She is really a person who is treasured and who will be missed,” Heebner said. “Hedda, we love you and thank you for your contributions to this industry.”

Hedda, who was 62, died of complications from lung cancer at a Philadelphia hospital on Oct. 3. She left behind a legacy of love not only in the jewelry industry, but also in Democratic politics and in the home in King of Prussia that she shared for decades with the love of her life, her husband, Jim Baum.

The longtime editor in chief of JCK magazine and later The Centurion newsletter, Hedda was, in the words of her former colleague Barbara Spector, “intimidatingly stylish.”

But her style was the only vaguely intimidating thing about Hedda. Former colleagues in the jewelry industry and local Democratic politics instead recall her both as a witty and warm presence in their lives, as well as a trend-setter.

“In jest, I always told her she’s the sister I am glad I never had,” Shor, her former JCK colleague, said. “Her response was always: ‘I hang with you because I need a Wookie.’”

Shor also recalled that when Hedda forgot her keys, she’d say: “Call me bone-Hedda.” To which Shor would reply: “I will.”

JCK news director Rob Bates shared similar memories.

‘To people inside the magazine and out, Schupak was known for her warmth, kindness, intelligence and humor—as well as her intense likes (cats, Tastykakes) and dislikes (cilantro),” Bates wrote in a tribute to Hedda.

Hedda combined her wit with an insatiable drive to know the jewelry industry and make it better. Spector recalled her trade-industry advice to jewelry retailers aimed at encouraging them to offer the best-possible service to their customers, and to cater to women customers and not just men buying gifts for their sweethearts.

“Occasionally she would visit jewelry stores ‘in disguise’ (i.e., wearing glasses instead of contact lenses and leaving her naturally curly hair unstraightened) as a mystery shopper to test whether her advice was being heeded,” Spector said.

What’s more, starting in her 20s, Hedda championed young jewelry designers – and left an indelible mark on the industry as a result, Shor said.

“With her keen fashion eye and writing flair, she helped many of today’s well-known designers achieve recognition within the mainstream jewelry industry, which was critical to their success,” Shor said.

And that, in turn, was critical to Hedda’s success.

“As the years proceeded, Hedda became an industry icon — an influencer before the term was coined,” Shor said. “But she was loved, not feared as many are…At trade shows, she’d listen to everyone, even some of those inflated egos, then we’d meet for dinner and dish her honest opinions. Nor was she tempted by offers of free jewels for publicity because integrity, again, was her foundation.”

That sense of integrity, her husband said, made her “a social justice warrior for humans and a champion for all animals.”

“Whether the living being walked on two feet or on four paws, Hedda wanted to make sure that if they were part of her life, that they had the best life they possibly could have,” Jim said.

In recent years, Hedda steered her passions toward politics. She served as vice chair of the Upper Merion Democratic Committee, and also served on the Montgomery County Democratic Committee Messaging Committee and was Area 12 Representative to the county Democratic Executive Committee. She was also a member of the Upper Merion Township Zoning Hearing Board.

“Hedda’s numerous contributions to local and county Democratic organizations cannot be overstated,” said Kyle Shenk, chairman of the Upper Merion Area Democratic Committee. Shenk added that Hedda “used her finely honed professional talents to shape political messaging and influence voters in the successful pursuit of the Democratic ideals to which she was so fiercely dedicated.”

Hedda was fiercely dedicated as well to Jim, her husband of 11 years and partner of 31 years.

“She was the love of my life,” Jim said. “People would tell us that we had a perfect relationship, and they were right.”

Hedda made the home she shared with Jim a Thanksgiving home away from home for friends who otherwise might be alone on the holiday, sharing with them her impeccable and well-practiced talents as a cook.

And she also made their house a home to countless cats over the years.

“She doted on them,” Jim said. “We have 16 cat beds for four cats.”

Doting, in fact, was Hedda’s way of living. Proof of that can be found in the comments left on social media after her passing.

“I’ll always remember the way she made everyone laugh and feel like they were a part of her life,” said Avi Raz.

“Hedda was just brilliant, kind and everything she touched to gold,” said Olga Gonzalez. “She will be so missed by the trade and all who knew her.”

“She sparkled brighter than the gems she often wrote about,” said Marc Cohen.

A 1979 graduate of Pottsville High School, Hedda attended Drexel University and graduated from Albright College in 1983. She is survived by her husband and her sister, Susan (Farkas) Wenner.

A popular lecturer in the jewelry industry, she was regularly quoted in general media such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution as well as on television in the United States and abroad.

Hedda served on the board of the Diamond Empowerment Fund and was a 20-year board member of the Women's Jewelry Association and won more than two dozen awards for her journalism, business expertise, and advocacy of the jewelry industry.

The Pennsylvania Department of Commerce named her as one of the state’s Best 50 Women in Business in 2003 and the Jewelry Information Center named her trade press editor of the year in 2004. Hedda was inducted into the Women’s Jewelry Association’s Hall of Fame in 2006

But as Bates, the JCK news director, reflected on Hedda’s passing on the Jewelry District podcast, he was struck not by those awards, but by the heartfelt tributes that Hedda earned on social media.

“I think that's testament to a life well-lived,” Bates said.

The memorial service for Hedda is on November 17 is in the care of Alleva Funeral Home, Inc. is as follows:

Burial - 10:30 a.m., Valley Forge Memorial Gardens, 352 South Gulph Rd., King of Prussia, PA. 19406 The burial location is at the top of the hill right next to the cemetery office.

Family Visitation - 11:30 a.m., Temple Brith Achim, 481 South Gulph Rd., King of Prussia, PA 19406

Memorial Service - 12:30 p.m., Temple Brith Achim 

Luncheon - approximately 1:45 p.m., Seasons 52 restaurant, 160 North Gulph Rd., King of Prussia, PA

In lieu of flowers, contributions in Hedda’s memory may be made to Upper Merion Area Community Cupboard, King of Prussia, Pennsylvania,; Hillside SPCA, 51 SPCA Rd., Pottsville, Pennsylvania 17901 US,; and Centre County PAWS, 1401 Trout Rd., State College, Pennsylvania 16801,

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