Watchmaker made the most of time with family

August 29, 2004|by MARLO BARNHART

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail will run "A Life Remembered." The story will take a look back - through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others - at a member of the community who died recently. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about Jacob Jake Kreider Bare, who died Aug. 20 at the age of 96. His obituary appeared in the Aug. 23 editions of The Morning Herald and The Daily Mail.

As the holidays approached each year, Louise Bare always could figure on her husband getting home late.

A watchmaker and engraver by trade, Jacob Bare would put in a lot of extra hours fashioning very special and personal gifts at R. Bruce Carson Jewelers, a business he owned from 1949 until 1976.

"You know, dad's handwriting was atrocious, but his engraving was beautiful," recalled Jacob's daughter, Christine Rushing. Neither Christine nor her mother could begin to guess at how many "silver platter" pins he engraved over his 47-year career.


Bare died Aug. 20 at the age of 96.

Born one of 14 children to a Mennonite family in Lancaster, Pa., Jacob attended the Lancaster School for Boys, then went to Bowman's Watchmaking School, where he learned his trade.

"Jacob came to Hagerstown in 1929 and went to work at Carson Jewelers, which moved from West Washington Street into its current location when the Alexander Hotel first opened," Louise Bare said.

When Carson died in 1949, Jacob and Leon Gross became partners in the business. After Gross died, Jacob was sole owner until 1976, when he sold the business to Charles Newcomer.

"I bought the business in 1994 when my father retired," current owner Tom Newcomer said. He said Jacob would be pleased to know that his beloved watchmaking trade - once in danger of disappearing - is enjoying a resurgence in the 21st century.

Carson Jewelers has been in business since 1902.

Describing her father as a very gentle man, Christine said one of her first childhood memories is sitting on his lap while he read the Sunday comics to her.

"He'd use different voices for the different characters and we'd laugh and laugh," she said.

Jacob also enjoyed playing with his grandchildren, Christine said.

"They would often take turns riding on his crossed leg as he made them laugh, too," she said.

Then there was Easter, when Jacob would join his children, and later his grandchildren, at the table as they painted eggs for the holiday.

"He'd paint crazy faces and put the grandchildren's names on the eggs," Christine said.

Louise said her husband's immediate family was very close, so he learned early in life how to be involved with his own children, Christine and sons Douglas and Alan Bare.

"Jacob's family played a lot of games and so did we when the children were growing up," Louise said.

Christine, who grew up in the family home on Hamilton Boulevard, said her father always was right in there playing the games with the children.

"Dad was also very good at math," Christine said. "I remember he often helped us with our homework."

An avid church worker, Jacob taught Sunday school for many years at First Christian Church. Christine said he would come home from work late on Friday nights, go to the kitchen table and open his Bible. There, he would work on his Sunday school lesson.

Notorious for his sweet tooth, Jacob particularly was fond of Hershey's Kisses, which he always called buds. Louise said he'd take the wrappers off, chill them in the refrigerator and then line them up on the table to eat.

At his funeral service, Louise and her children decided it would be fitting to put out a bowl of "buds" for Jacob's many friends to enjoy as they remembered his life.

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