The Herald Banner, Greenville, TX

Everybody Has a Story

August 18, 2010

Polished to perfection

Fifth generation jeweler opened shop in 1955

GREENVILLE — Ernest Odeneal Jr. has been repairing jewelry since the age of 12 and has never once considered pursuing an alternate career path.

“Well, I did think about becoming a lawyer,” he said. “I had lawyers in my family, but I was already a jeweler and was making more money than most starting lawyers were making at the time.”

Odeneal is a fifth generation jeweler and something of a dying breed.

The first jeweler in Odeneal’s family line was William Cayce, 1803-1878, who operated his jewelry store in Franklin, Tenn. He taught his son-in-law, Alexander Odeneal, 1846-1914, the trade and he, in turn, taught his son, William Odeneal, 1871-1937, who eventually opened stores in both Paris, Texas and Dallas.

The fourth generation jeweler was Ernest Odeneal Sr., 1905-1977, who had jewelry stores in both Dallas and Denison, making his son, Ernest Odeneal Jr. the fifth generation jeweler.

Now Odeneal is the watchmaker in Hunt County.

“I started out sweeping the floors of my father’s store in Denison,” said Odeneal. “That was during World War II, when I was about 12. His partner would give me tiny wrist watches to repair and my father gave me old antique pocket watches to learn on. By the time I was out of high school I was a first class watchmaker.”

The Odeneals moved to Greenville in 1953 and opened up Odeneal’s Jewelry in 1955 at 2411 Stonewall, what is now a parking lot.

In 1978 they purchased a building downtown that used to contain Love’s Hat Shop and Narramore’s Shoe Repair and completely remodeled it to suit their needs.

“We’ve seen a lot of changes in our 55 years,” said Jeri Odeneal, Ernest’s wife of 62 years this November. “You used to have a family jeweler like you had a family doctor but that ceased to be.”

Four years prior to that their son, Michael joined Odeneal, becoming the sixth generation jeweler in the Odeneal family. He worked with his father, learning all he had to pass on, until he moved from Greenville in 2003.

Odeneal Jewelry is a “Mom and Pop” operation, along with being the only jeweler downtown. The pair offer personal service with sales and repair in watches and jewelry, all done in-house.

“At one point there were about six jewelry stores downtown and now we’re the only one’s left,” said Jeri. “I think it’s persistence and determination. We enjoy being downtown immensely and look forward to all the changes taking place.”

The Odeneals run the store themselves with very little help from the outside.

“Jeri’s the best employee you could ask for,” said Odeneal. “She’s the secret behind the success of this outfit. She truly is the best there is. I’m the introvert and she’s the extrovert, so it works out well.”

While many ask the Odeneals about retirement, their answer is always the same.

“We have no immediate plans to retire,” said Jeri. “We’ve slowed down a bit since Ernie’s kidney removal in January, but we would miss seeing all our customers and friends too much to retire. Working here gives us a reason to get up and dressed in the morning. What would we do all day?”


Text Only
Everybody Has a Story
  • John Hill cutout.jpg Throwing pots and smashing perceptions

    To look at John Hill, one might think he is the kind of man who spends the majority of his time astride a Harley, playing pool with his buddies or firing up the grill after taking a swig of his favorite beer.

    April 18, 2012 5 Photos

  • BRUNCH-Doing the walk.jpg On the wings of a dragonfly

    Kimberly Martinez of Wolfe City uses humor to get her through those tough days and does her best to impress upon her daughter, Katelynn, how important it is to stop and smell the roses.

    March 27, 2012 4 Photos

  • The Klepins.jpg Giving of her time ... and affection.

    Darcy, 4-year old, 140-pound Newfoundland, spends her Thursday afternoons visiting patients at Hunt Memorial Hospital District.

    March 19, 2012 2 Photos

  • YMCA.jpg Greenville YMCA celebrates 50 years

    The Greenville YMCA building will be celebrating 50 years of dedicated service this March.

    February 27, 2012 1 Photo

  • TO-BRUNCH-William Francey in front of flag-2.jpg From 'Hooyah' to 'Ooh-rah'

    Tears welling up in the eyes of a proud father tell more of William Francey’s success than words ever could.

    February 2, 2012 1 Photo

  • Susan Nyra cutout.jpg Traveling old paths to help others find their way

    Susan Neyra is the founder of Disciples 4 Christ Outreach, a non-profit ministry with a heart and a call to reach incarcerated juveniles, women and men locally throughout the state of Texas.

    January 17, 2012 1 Photo

  • Woodard cutout.jpg Woodard gets to the heart through the stomach

    Peggy Woodard believes the quickest way to a person’s heart is through their stomach and her family would most certainly agree.

    December 21, 2011 2 Photos

  • ANDREW-CUT.jpg ‘Grocery Butler’ starts business to deliver food

    Andrew Davis, 24-year old entrepreneur, saw a need in the community and sought to fill it by creating his own business.

    October 30, 2011 1 Photo

  • Bras for the Cause

    October 7, 2011

  • 7 Sunday BRUNCH-W.C.Hydick.1.jpg The art of business

    Walter C. Hydick has done a great deal in his lifetime, from traveling all over the U.S., capturing the beauty that he sees, to bringing companies back from the brink of disaster.

    August 16, 2011 1 Photo

Featured Ads

Does Dallas head coach Jason Garrett need for the Cowboys to make the playoffs during the 2014 football season to keep his job?

Who knows with Jerry Jones as owner?
     View Results
Must Read

See more photos and purchase prints here.

AP Video
Couple Channel Grief Into Soldiers' Retreat WWI Aviation Still Alive at Aerodrome in NY Raw: Rescuers at Taiwan Explosion Scene Raw: Woman Who Faced Death Over Faith in N.H. Clinton Before 9-11: Could Have Killed Bin Laden Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Malaysian PM: Stop Fighting in Ukraine Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide