Judith Catherine Kloehn Lopez passed away at her Potrero Hill home on October 28, 2015. She was born September 28, 1947 at St. Mary’s Hospital.
In 1993, Lopez posed for View photographer and writer Peter Linenthal outside Strand Service-Appliance, her family’s Connecticut Street store, to commemorate the businesses’ 50th anniversary. Lopez told Linenthal she was celebrating a half-century of offering customers “The best possible deal in town.”
Strand Services’ founder, Lopez’s father Bert Kloehn, had died by the store’s 50th, as had her husband, John Lopez, who managed the store before he passed in 1991. In the View photograph Lopez stands next to the Strand’s mascot, the R.C.A. dog. Kloehn had wired the dog to greet customers with “Hi, I’m Nipper, the R.C.A. dog!”
Strands Service-Appliance was started by Kloehn as a sideline to a Chevron Station he ran at Third and Mariposa streets in the early-1940s. He began by selling small appliances and Decca records; he met Frank Sinatra during a Decca promotional tour. In 1961, Strand expanded and moved to its current location. It still carries a full line of refrigerators, stoves, dishwashers, clothes washers and dryers, as well as televisions, VCRs, cooktops, and carpeting. Strand was known for its warm, personal, customer service and low prices. Lopez continued her father’s practice of selling items at cost plus 10 percent.
Lopez co-founded and served on the board of the Potrero Hill Association of Merchants and Business, now known as the Potrero Dogpatch Merchants Association. According to Lopez’s sister, Joan Kloehn, she loved Potrero Hill, regularly participating in Potrero Hill History Night. Her family’s past revolved around the neighborhood; she was the perfect person to pass on the community’s lore.
Lopez’s parents were both born on the Hill; Bert on Tennessee Street, her mother, Marie, on Kansas. In the mid-1930s they bought a Texas Street house. The family moved off the Hill, to Ingleside Terrace, when Lopez was three. She attended elementary school at St. Emydius and high school at St. John Catholic School. According to Joan, Lopez always wanted to get back to the Hill; she felt she belonged there. “There was always this big connection with Potrero Hill,” said Joan.
Lopez attended a year of college. She pursued a career in finance. After moving through increasingly successful positions with several financial institutions, she secured a job at Rosenberg Capital Management, where she worked as a financial analyst for 10 years.
In 1969, Lopez met her husband, who was working as a stockbroker. They married in 1973. They’d vacation whenever possible, many times with friends from San Francisco. Hiking and fishing at Mt. Shasta and Pine Grove were common past times, as was traveling to Hawaii, New Orleans, and New Mexico. The couple also enjoyed 49er games.
Lopez moved back to the Hill in the late-1970s, settling above her family’s store with John. Both of her parents were still working at Strand at the time. She never again left. Even after her parents and husband died, Joan said, “Judie made the decision to stay and take over the business, because that’s what she really wanted to do. And she did a great job.”
It’s not yet settled what will happen to the family store. Presently, Lopez’s friends, owners of Podesta Construction, with whom Lopez shared the space, are keeping it open.
Lopez is survived by her sister, brother-in-law David Bergman, and cousins Kathy Villasenor, Sandy Williams, and Alex Cutrell.