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Jewelers watch award tradition will live on
Area high schools will still honor top football stars with Gem timepiece
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When Gem Jewelry Co. owner Marvin Orenstein died last December, his daughters said they were unsure of the business’s future, prompting many to wonder who might carry on the tradition of gifting football players at every high school in the county with a shiny new timepiece.

State Sen. Butch Miller even said that he would be “first on the list,” to ensure its continuance, Orenstein’s daughter, Temme Schooler, said last year.

But outstanding football players can still look forward to being rewarded with a watch from the business, co-owner and daughter Linda Orenstein said.

“It’s tradition. As long as we’re here, we’ve got that watch. There was never a consideration that it wouldn’t continue,” she said inside the jewelry shop Saturday.

Marvin Orenstein didn’t miss a single Gainesville High School football awards banquet for 65 years. Each of those years, the 75-year owner of Gem Jewelry in Gainesville donated a timepiece to a selected football player from the school.

Over the years, Orenstein’s donation grew to include seven high school football players every year, one from a different Hall County school.

Following the death of his father-in-law in 1946, Orenstein approached Gainesville High School requesting to set up an award in his memory. Orenstein’s idea was to present a player, selected by coaches, with a brand-new watch, usually worth about $300 to $400.

Following the consolidation of the county schools in the 1950s, Orenstein was asked by East Hall High School if he could help motivate the football players. School officials and coaches felt if players had something to work toward they would put forth the extra effort.

“He said ‘If you think it’ll help your program, you’ve got it,’” Orenstein recalled her father as saying.

Each public school in the county with a football program is given a watch provided by Gem Jewelry to present to the player it feels is most deserving.

The first banquet where a watch will be presented is Dec. 9 at Johnson High School, she said.

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