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Isadore Dorfman

July 15, 1895 – October 27, 1965
Isadore Dorfman was born in Galveston, Texas, to Julius and Sarah Leff Dorfman. He had only
a third-grade education but was home-schooled by his mother. As a young man, he learned the
jewelry business in Houston and Boston.
Isadore served in the US infantry during WWI. He married Dorothy Oshman of Richmond,
Texas, on August 10, 1919. Isadore became friends with Morris Edelstein, who had a successful
furniture business in Brownsville. Morris suggested that he come to the Valley to start a
business.
Isadore tried businesses from raising turkeys and pigeons to opening the first Edsel dealership in
the valley. Isadore finally settled on establishing a jewelry store on Elizabeth Street in
Brownsville, which became very successful. Later when he became ill, he was Dr. Michael E.
DeBakey’s first Dacron artery replacement patient. He was told to slow down, so he closed the
store and opened a jewelry office in the First National Bank on Elizabeth Street.
During the 1940’s, Isadore had a business in Mexico manufacturing sterling silver lighters by the
name of Dorcel (Dorfman-Celaya. His daughter, Elaine Dorfman Wiedermann, went down to
run the business during WWII, while Isadore served his country as a Major in the Texas Defense
Guard.
In 1952, Isadore Dorfman purchased some acreage on Palm Boulevard from W.A. “Snake” King.
Snake King was W.A. Leiberman, a Jewish man who renamed himself when he came to
Brownsville in the early 1900’s to supply carnivals with defanged rattlesnakes for an attraction
known as the Snake Pit.
Isadore developed the Palm Village Shopping Center on the site and moved Dorfman’s Jeweler’s
to the shopping center. This was the first shopping center in Brownsville, Texas. A few months
later his youngest daughter, Sarah, with her husband, Ralph Frapart, and son, Jules, moved to
Brownsville to open Ralph’s of Palm Village, a woman’s fine clothing store.
Isadore was a Master Mason and belonged to the Rio Grande Masonic Lodge in Brownsville.
He was a life member of the Scottish Rite of San Antonio and the Al-Amin Shriners of Corpus
Christi.
Isadore is buried next to his wife Dorothy in the Hebrew Cemetery of Brownsville, Texas.