Generously sponsored by Mel and Leena Sturman in loving memory of Mel's father, Billy.
All information on this page was gathered from the Washington State Jewish Historical Society Archives and from materials donated by the Sturman family, including an oral history interview by Isabel Stusser from 1985, newspaper clippings, synagogue documents from Temple Beth Or, and photographs.
Billy Sturman was born in 1908 in Slawatycze, Poland, an Orthodox Jewish town. His family immigrated to Newark, New Jersey, when he was around two years old, where his father Joe had difficulty finding work; his mother returned to Poland with the children after seven or eight years, while his father remained in the U.S. In 1916, Joe moved to Everett, Washington, where he started a shoe repair shop. The rest of the family returned to the U.S. and were reunited in 1924.
Billy attended school for two years before quitting to work in his father’s shop, though he attended night school for an additional three years to learn the information necessary to become a U.S. citizen. From a young age, he fought against anti-Semitism, standing up to bigotry at the YMCA he attended and successfully helping to break up a Nazi organization in Everett.
In 1928, Billy was approached by a man asking if he would buy his clothing and supply store; later that year, “Billy’s Menswear” (later called “Billy’s Men’s and Boy’s Western Wear”) officially opened. He stayed open through the Depression, one of only two stores on the block to do so. Billy remained generous with patrons through the long, hard years, and credits the store’s longevity in part to that generosity. Billy ran his store for 68 years in the same location on Hewitt Avenue in Everett before his retirement.
Billy met the woman who would later become his wife, Mary Mann, when she visited his sister Ann. They visited back and forth between Vancouver, BC and Everett, eventually marrying in 1932. They had two children, Melvin (Mel) and Sandra.
Billy and Mary remained active at Temple Beth Or, where the "Billy and Mary Sturman Campership Fund" was established to help children in the temple attend Jewish summer camp. Billy passed away at the Caroline Kline Galland home in 2002.
Left: Billy and family in front of the store upon his retirement. Right: Billy and Mary at their fiftieth anniversary.