A. F. Dawahare, who led a chain of clothing stores that were a favorite of shoppers throughout Kentucky for decades, died Thursday at age 87.
He was the youngest (and the last surviving) of the 11 children of the late Srur Frank Dawahare and Selma Cury Dawahare, who founded Dawahares, a chain of retail stores that lasted 101 years.
A. F. Dawahare was a former president and CEO of the company, which had 31 stores at its peak. Though most were in Kentucky, the retailer also operated stores in West Virginia, Ohio and Tennessee, said A.F. Dawahare’s nephew, Joe Dawahare.
Dawahares closed its stores after filing for bankruptcy protection amid the recession of 2008.
A. F. Dawahare was a graduate of the Millersburg Military Institute, according to an obituary. He received an undergraduate degree from Harvard University and earned a master of business administration from Harvard Business School.
Joe Dawahare said A. F. Dawahare began his career at the Hazard Dawahares store before leaving to work for Shillito’s department store in Cincinnati.
“He did very well there,” Joe Dawahare said, but he returned to the family business and ran it or decades along with his brothers.
“He was very astute,” Joe Dawahare said. “He knew how to pick a good fashion and go with it and make it work. ...He could spot the fad and the fashion trend before it happened and capitalize on it.”
He served on the board of the Kentucky Retail Federation and the National Retail Federation.
Joe Dawahare said his uncle was “very generous, very kind.”
“He was very fair with people, tried to help people if he could,” Joe Dawahare said. “The way they did it, they wouldn’t make a big deal about it.”
Dawahares got its start after A. F. Dawahare’s father, Srur Frank Dawahare, immigrated to New York from Syria and married Selma Cury.
The couple moved to East Jenkins in 1907, and S.F. began working as a pack peddler in the coal camps. They went on to have eight sons and three daughters.
A. F. Dawahare was born in Neon, where S F. opened a store in the early 1920s.
“My father ... when I was 2 or so, he gave me a stick to break, and I could break it. He put 11 of those sticks together and passed it around to everybody, and nobody could break it,” A.F. Dawahare once told a reporter. “He was trying to tell us that there was strength in unity and family.”
A. F. Dawahare is survived by his wife of 63 years, Jeanne Marie Maloof Dawahare, and their four children.
Funeral services will be conducted at 11 a.m. Monday at the Cathedral of Christ the King.
Visitation will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Sunday at Milward Funeral Directors -Man o’ War on Trent Boulevard.