Within the Meadowbrook Cemetery in Lumberton there is a smaller cemetery known as Beth-El Cemetery. Here are buried members of Lumberton’s Jewish families: Weinstein, Schaeman, Meyer, Bloom, Bodenstein, and Osterneck. Emanuel Sugar’s interment was in Cross Creek Cemetery, Fayetteville.
This is the first of several articles that will feature some of the Jewish families, merchants and leaders in the county.
Temple Beth-El Synagogue was once located on the corner of Water Street and Elizabethtown Road. A granite marker locates the historic site today. Temple Beth-El was built in 1918 and was the center of Jewish worship until 1953. There were 25 Jewish families in the 1940s associated with the synagogue. Only a few Jewish families live in Lumberton today. A new synagogue was later built on Water Street and served the congregation until it dissolved. The building was sold to Trinity Baptist Church and is used by the church today. Senator David F. Weinstein provided the picture of the synagogue with the Star of David and Alan Sugar provided the picture of the synagogue with World War II soldiers in front.
The Sugar Family
Alan Sugar shared information on the prominent Sugar family. He said that Emanuel Sugar opened Sugar’s Men’s Store in Lumberton in 1935. Sugar was active in all aspects of Lumberton’s business and social life. His obituary in The Robesonian on December 30, 1964, refers to Sugar as Lumberton’s “Merchant Prince.”
His death is described in beautiful language in his obituary: “His life span was hardly more than a flicker of an eyelash on the Face of Time, but the influence he wielded as a merchant prince was statewide and the genteel beauty of his association with mankind was a thing of joy and reverence. He’ll be missed more than any other man in Lumberton. Emanuel Sugar was acclaimed by nearly everybody as the greatest mercantile salesman ever to hit Lumberton.”
A friend to everyone
The obituary further describes Sugar “as kindly as he was broad-minded, and many a non-Jewish cause found a friend in him. His public service career embraced many fields in the advancement of the business life of Lumberton. He was in the forefront of such promotional groups as the Chamber of Commerce and Merchants Association. He was also a Mason, Elk, a member of the Kiwanis Club, and a devoted member of Temple Beth-El.”
Sugar’s Men’s Store
Sugar was proprietor and chief sales clerk at Sugar’s Men’s Store in Lumberton, founded by Emanuel Sugar in association with his brother, Leon Sugar. He was brought to Robeson County by his parents, Joe and Anne Sugar, who located in St. Pauls in 1916 and became merchant and community builders there, as did their son in Lumberton.
Supporter of Lumberton
Alan Sugar describes Emanuel Sugar, “as being active in all aspects, of the City of Lumberton.” He helped many families in the city that needed assistance and opened accounts for people needing work clothes. He helped military families during World War II. He was a supporter of the Lumberton High School Athletic Department, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and churches. He supported Christian charities as well as Jewish charities. Emanuel, beloved by the town’s citizens, died in 1964.
The Sugar family
Emanuel was survived by his wife, the former Evelyn D’Lugin of Wilmington; two sons, Alan and Dennis Sugar, both of Lumberton; his mother, Anne Leviton Sugar of St. Pauls; two brothers, Leon Sugar of Fayetteville and Stanley Sugar of St. Pauls; and one sister, Bea Fleishman of Lumberton.
Sons take over the business
Alan and Dennis Sugar took over the business and operated it until the business closed. Both sons remained very active in Lumberton and the Temple Beth-El Synagogue. Alan was the first chairman of the Human Relations Committee of Robeson County and chairman of the scout masters of the county. He served as cantor at Temple Beth-El and sang in many churches on different occasions.
Alan and Sarah Britt were the first co-chair persons of the Carolina Civic Foundation and helped in the beginning of the renovation of the Carolina Theater.
Alan was appointed chairman of the Congressional Action Committee of Robeson County, was a Mason, a member of Kiwanis club, and president of the Cotillion Club. Dennis Sugar was active in Temple Beth-El and several civic clubs.
Sugar family in St. Pauls
The “History of St. Pauls, Its Past and Present” records that the first clothing store for men and women in St. Pauls was Sugar’s Men’s Store. It was started in 1916 when Joe Sugar and his family arrived in St. Pauls from Bennettsville, S.C., where Sugar had been in business with his brothers, Julius and Jake. The family not only made quality clothing available to the town and surrounding area, but they were involved in making the town a better place to live. Anne Sugar was loved by the young people because she opened her home to youth in the community for social functions when there were few facilities for entertaining. Joe Sugar died in 1963 and his beloved wife, Anne, in 1968.
Sugar’s Men’s Store today
Sugar’s Men’s Store in St. Pauls has been enlarged several times through the years, and grew under the management of Stanley Sugar. Joe, the youngest grandson of Joe and Anne, owns and operates Joe Sugar’s today. The store is recognized as one of the finest clothing establishments in the state.