New York—Beloved industry executive Estelle Hedaya was laid to rest Tuesday in Brooklyn, bringing some closure to family and friends who’ve waited weeks for word on her fate.
Hedaya, 54, was one of the victims of the condominium collapse in Surfside, Florida, in late June and was the last to be identified. Her younger brother, Ikey Hedaya, confirmed the identification of her remains
to the Associated Press Monday.
Services took place Tuesday morning, with mourners filling the Magen David Synagogue in the borough’s Bensonhurst neighborhood.
A Brooklyn native, Hedaya spent her career in jewelry, working for companies including Dinaro Creations, World Trade Jewelers, and Continental Buying Group/Preferred Jewelers International, where she served as director of operations for the past six years.
Those who knew Hedaya remember her as a happy, positive, and outgoing woman who was dedicated to her friends and family, her Jewish faith, and her job in an industry she loved.
April Scorcia, who worked with Hedaya for seven years at World Trade Jewelers, remembered the fun they would have working side-by-side in the office, and navigating airports, rooming together, and staying up late into the night talking on business trips.
It was during these trips, Scorcia said, that Hedaya introduced her to reality TV via “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.” Her commentary on the show was “hilarious,” Scorcia remembers.
When the opportunity arose for Hedaya to leave her native New York and move to Miami to work for CBG, Scorcia encouraged her to take it.
It turned out to be a good move. In Miami, Hedaya seemingly hit her stride.
She excelled at her job, made new friends, and, recently, got into a new fitness routine and bought a new car—a red Lexus—all the while chronicling her adventures in her blog, Follow the Toes
CBG President Andie Weinman said she hired Hedaya with the idea that she would one day succeed her at CBG, and Hedaya was embracing the challenge.
She was “unbelievable” at getting suppliers and retailers together, Weinman said, and was taking on more responsibility at each CBG show, including the recently concluded—and by all accounts successful
—show in Las Vegas.
“She was my right arm,” Weinman wrote in an email to National Jeweler Tuesday. “I will miss her.”
Both Weinman and Scorcia said they had never seen Hedaya happier, and her positivity was infectious.
“Estelle never had a bad thing to say about anyone, ever,” Scorcia said.
“Even in bad times, she always found the bright side. She was such a good-feeling catalyst for everyone around her … I will miss her so.”
The Champlain Towers South in Surfside, a small beach community adjacent to Miami, collapsed in the middle of the night on June 24. Hedaya lived on the sixth floor of the condo building.
A total of 98 people were killed in the collapse.
Over the last month, CBG owner Joe Murphy has been sharing developments in the search for Hedaya via Facebook almost daily, with each post attracting hundreds of likes and comments from members of the jewelry industry.
The team at CBG/Preferred Jewelers also created a gift fund in her name
at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
As of Wednesday morning, the donation total was approaching $95,000.
In a July 25 Facebook post, Murphy noted that Hedaya’s memorial fund accounts for one of the largest online donations made to St. Jude all year.
“Our girl just continues to do amazing things,” he wrote. “Love her and miss her.”