Mother, daughter keep it in family
by Brenda Pedraza-Vidamour, Special to The Newnan Times-Herald
Helga Loesche of Newnan adores her boss, has loved her fiercely since the day she was born, and her boss feels the same way about her.
“I love her, and we work good together,” Loesche says about her eldest daughter, Marilyn Petry. The mother-daughter team has worked together at Juliana’s Furniture Galleries in Newnan for the past 17 years.
Loesche started the furniture store in 1986 with her late husband, Walter Loesche. He ran several companies out of the sprawling warehouse that now houses Juliana’s, a fine furniture store. The warehouse was formerly the Atlanta Foreign Trade Zone before he ran into some well-documented legal troubles. Walter Loesche passed away last year from pancreatic cancer.
Helga Loesche had primarily been a homemaker and mother of four girls before opening the furniture store named after one of her daughters. She started the business because she lost her Newnan home in a fire and wanted to replace the furniture.
“Our house burned down. We owned the building, so I decided to do all this,” she said, directing her gaze around the 20,000-square-foot showroom floor. The store is located off Amlajack Boulevard in Shenandoah Industrial Park. Loesche said she was disappointed in the quality of the furniture in the area so she decided to stock her own inventory of fine furniture lines, which include brands such as Bernhardt, King Hickory and Hekman.
Originally from Munich, the diminutive 75-year-old credited her family’s strong sense of perseverance to a grandmother who crawled under the fence separating East Germany from the West. She also tenderly reminisced over how she met her late husband at a German university. She stepped down from the store’s operations after her husband died, but she comes to the store every day. The mother and daughter are loyal companions. Her daughter calls her a wonderful and patient teacher.
“I hope that I can be that patient,” Petry says.
Petry’s son recently started helping out at the store, which is currently undergoing major renovations. He’ll be the third generation of family in the store’s 27-year history.
Petry, a 52-year-old who inherited her mother’s ready smile and gentle fortitude, said her mother opens the store every day, most of the time before she arrives. She’s thankful for her dedication and punctuality, admitting sheepishly that she doesn’t always arrive on time the six days Juliana’s is open during the week, but her mother does.
“She’s always here. She’s dependable. She’s a hard worker,” she says.
Petry recounted how two days earlier Loesche was in a car accident in which her car was T-boned by another and flipped over on its roof. Her mother was trapped and hanging by the shoulder harness. She escaped serious injury. Petry said her mother was ready to return to work the next day. She’s indefatigable.
“Not afraid of anything,” she says.