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By John Harte/ The Californian
BY JOHN COX Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
Haberdasher Jack Saba, an enthusiastic supporter of local sports and promoter of Old Town Kern, died Wednesday after a struggle with Alzheimer's disease. He was 81.
Saba and his brothers, Al and Jim, spent much of their professional lives working in Saba's Men's Store, founded by their father on Baker Street in 1934.
As a young man, Jack Saba worked as a teacher at Washington Junior High after graduating from East Bakersfield High in 1950 and then going on to study at Bakersfield College and then Fresno State.
First he joined the U.S. Navy and for two years served in Guam. There he learned to play golf, which became a lifelong love.
After serving his country, he taught for a few years before deciding to take up the family business. There he took pride in outfitting local law enforcement and civilians.
"Customers come first -- you meet them at the door," he told The Californian in 2006, the year of his retirement. "Whatever you're doing in the back room -- walk out, meet them at the door."
His wife of 53 years, Elizabeth, said he was an ardent advocate for Old Town Kern, working with other business owners to keep the area vibrant.
But his real passion was sports. Though he weighed only about 120 pounds at his heaviest, Saba embraced everything from boxing to triathlons, as a participant as well as a spectator. His wife said he tried never to miss a high school football game involving either of his sons, Mike and Gerry.
"He was happy to support anybody for anything they were doing, sportswise," she said.
The couple would prepare for triathlons together, going on bicycle rides from Bakersfield College to Porterville and back on Sundays, his one day away from the store.
The two of them joined four other couples in forming a booster club -- Gold Wave Masters -- for Cal State Bakersfield's swim team.
"He made a mark, and he will be missed," said CSUB spokesman Colleen Dillaway.
Active as well in other aspects of the community, Saba was a member of the Rotary Club of Bakersfield East and a member of the Salvation Army Advisory Club. He also attended Wesley Methodist Church and, later First Congregational Church.
He is survived by son Mike and his wife Dana; daughter Anne Beth Hallock and her husband Lee; and Gerry; as well as four grandchildren: Ellie and Mason Saba, and Katie and Jenna Hallock.
A memorial service will be held at 9 a.m. Oct. 7 at First Congregational Church. In lieu of donations, the family has requested donations to the Alzheimer's Disease Association of Kern County, 5500 Olive Drive, Building 1, Bakersfield, Calif., 93308.