Society / Profiles

Remembering Dallas’ Own Hope Diamond — This Gem of a City Changer Gave Her All For Causes That Count

Louise Eiseman Takes Us Back to 1967 as Only a True Bomb Girl Can

BY // 08.10.21

This article was first published in February of 2019. Given the news of Louise Eiseman’s passing, PaperCity is sharing the story again today. 

I was saddened to hear the news that my dear friend Louise Eiseman passed away last evening. Louise Rose Freedman Eiseman was a loving mother and grandmother. She was also a tireless volunteer whom many knew from her involvement with organizations throughout Dallas. And, perhaps just as importantly, she was a trailblazer and an entrepreneur — the founder, alongside her husband, of Eiseman Jewels in NorthPark Center.

Louise was born in Dallas but left to study and receive her degree from the University of Texas at Austin. Upon graduating, she met the love of her life: Richard D. “Dick” Eiseman, and they married in 1953. They lived in a few cities before eventually returning to Dallas, where they soon opened their namesake store. For most Dallas residents, Eiseman Jewels is an institution. 

I first met Louise close to 16 years ago, when I began working at the Dallas Museum of Art. She loved the museum and was a dedicated and passionate docent for decades. Shortly after I started writing my monthly column, “She’s the Bomb” I reached out to ask if I could profile her for it. You will find that story below. Louise shared many stories that didn’t make it into the copy — confidences that I will always cherish. 

For example, I asked if she remembered the day that John F. Kennedy was shot in Dallas. Many of my other “She’s the Bomb” ladies remembered exactly what they were doing at the time. Louise replied: “I have one better for you: I remember the day that Pearl Harbor was bombed. I was having a sleepover at a friend’s home, not far from my parents. My friend’s mother said to me, ‘Louise, your mother just called and said Pearl Harbor was just bombed, and I think Louise should come home.’ I got on my bike and pedaled as fast as I could and kept looking up at the sky, since I had no idea at that young age where Pearl Harbor was.”

The last time I saw Louise was in 2019, when she came to one of my birthday parties. That year, I had only invited past “She’s the Bomb” ladies to attend. Louise came with her nurse and, as always, regaled us all with a bevy of humorous stories. 

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Due to COVID-19 concerns, the family has decided to wait until a later date for services. In lieu of flowers, if you wish to make a donation, please consider the Louise F. Eiseman Fund for Memorial Gifts at Southwestern Medical Foundation (3889 Maple Avenue, Suite 100, Dallas, 75219; https://swmedical.org/gifts/makeagift) or the Dallas Museum of Art Docent Program (1717 North Harwood Street, Dallas, 75201; https://dma.org/support).

I hope you can take a moment to reread my “She’s the Bomb” on the incredible Louise Eiseman.


 

With jewels on the mind, I thought: Why not have my latest Bomb Girl be one of Dallas’ most precious gems? Louise Eiseman is my Hope Diamond. Her family’s store, Eiseman Jewels in NorthPark Center, is nirvana for all who appreciate exquisite baubles and fine watches.

Louise was one of the first women I met when I moved to Texas to assume my post at the Dallas Museum of Art. The museum would coordinate trips as a benefit to generous patrons like Louise, and I had the opportunity to travel with her. In fact, we had such a great time on that first expedition to Los Angeles, she always signed up for the excursions I would lead alongside one of our amazing curators. We became known around the offices of the DMA as Harold and Maude.

Catching up with Louise in her well-appointed Preston Hollow residence was silly and fun. Like a modern day robot, she playfully shared that she had all of her spare parts — hearing aid, glasses, and even a magnifying glass — and was ready for a walk down memory lane. We also had some serious conversations, including one about the horrific hate crime shooting at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.

It hit particularly close to home for Louise, since her mother grew up in the neighborhood where the shooting occurred. We both commiserated that these are uncertain and, for lack of a better term, scary times. We agreed that one of the greatest things about museums is that in addition to being the repositories of the treasures that define cultures, they are also millennial Kunsthalles. These are places where people of all faiths, colors, nationalities, and political affiliations come together to share in joyous occasions as well as to mourn those affected by tragedy.

Louise’s devotion to the DMA dates back to the early days of her marriage to Richard Eiseman (founder of Eiseman Jewels). She was a dedicated docent and was always happiest when she would take children from underserved neighborhoods on tours of the museum’s collection.

Louise’s taste and demeanor may seem to hearken back to a more refined and genteel time. However, she is one of the most progressive thinkers I have ever encountered. She worked tirelessly on former mayor Annette Strauss’ mayoral campaign — Strauss was the first Jewish woman elected mayor of Dallas. Louise was also an early adopter of androgynous fashion. She was the marketing guru and brand ambassador for Eiseman Jewels.

When pop stars and professional athletes began to wear necklaces, earrings, rings, and, of course, bold watches she thought, “Let’s sell just one earring and not a pair if a man wants to only have one in his right or left ear.” With Louise’s full backing, Eiseman Jewels also felt that it should cater to those in search of single-sex wedding bands.

Louise’s Bomb picture is beyond perfection. Might I suggest you put on Shirley Bassey’s “Diamonds Are Forever” while you read her answers.

Approximate date of this photo.

1967.

The occasion.

Back in the day, the news outlets (like the Dallas Morning News) would do advance promotions of events or, in this case, benefit fundraisers. This was the era when the Dallas Museum of Art was still called the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts and was located in Fair Park. The ladies would dress in their finest to volunteer and fulfill their docent duties. The League was in charge of the primary fund-raiser, the Beaux Arts Ball. Each year had a theme and in 1967 it was Arabian Nights. This image was an advance promotion of that event.

This photo was taken in the middle of the day and Dick [Richard Eiseman] and I were all gussied up. We were hoping we would get a flat tire driving around and that the world would see us in those outfits.

What you were wearing.

I don’t remember the designer, but it was a long jumper with pleated white pants and a black panel over the front. I wasn’t a gymnast, but here I am in a pose showing my leg dexterity. I don’t recall, but I might have been holding on for dear life with my right hand on that bar, or else slip. I had on three separate strands of pearls worn together. A diamond and pearl pin and diamond and pearl earrings completed my en-suite look. Richard is behind me looking as dapper as ever in a tuxedo.

What price fashion.

We had the fine jewels department at Titches department store, so I imagine that the dress was purchased there. I fondly remember Adolfo. I had a zillion of his outfits. He made beautiful daytime suits and exquisite evening dresses. I gave many of those to Myra Walker, the curator of the Texas fashion collection at UNT and also the Dallas Historical Society’s Hall of State. Jewelry, of course, was my number-one favorite, but shoes were my next weakness.

Dick didn’t care how much I spent on clothing. He would often choose clothes that he thought would look good on me. He had excellent taste.

Why this is a Bomb.com picture of you.

I was interested in the museum for many years. I realize today I have been involved for close to 60 years. Also, I was always happy when I was in Dick’s company — we were a great team.

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