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Woody Justice, 'Wokka Wokka' jeweler, dies in Springfield

October 24, 2011|by Gene Hartley

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- A businessman well known for his whimsical ads and his "Wokka Wokka" diamonds, Woody Justice, has died.  Justice tagged most of his commercials for his store, which is now on Battlefield Road at U.S. 65, with "I want to be your jeweler."

News release from the family:

"Woody Justice, jeweler to Southwest Missouri for 30 years, is gone. A stroke took him quietly as he worked alone in his private office at home.

"Woody’s interest in gemology took him from adolescent rock collector to rare stone expert at the Gemological Institute of America prior to moving to Springfield.

"Famous for his radio ads saying, “I want to be your jeweler,” and his “Wokka! Wokka!” diamonds, Justice rose from an obscure location in a strip center on Sunshine Avenue to occupy a 10,000 square foot showroom on Hiway 65 at Battlefield.

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"Justice was chosen from among 30,000 retail jewelers in 2007 for induction into the Jewelers Hall of Fame in New York.  The other inductee that year was Michael J. Kowalski, CEO of Tiffany. During his acceptance speech, Kowalski mentioned that although his company did more than 641 million dollars last quarter, “It’s really not that difficult to take a 200-year-old legendary brand to the next level. What I’ve done is nothing compared to my fellow honoree. Woody Justice is a man who started with nothing and built a jewelry store that’s known across America. And he did it in just 25 years.”

"The applause shook the walls and is still echoing.

"In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to Camp Barnabas, an Ozarks camp for handicapped children that Woody supported fervently."

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A closed visitation for family and friends will be held later this week.  It is not open to the public.

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Justice posted an autobiograpy on YouTube.

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Here's a history of Justice's company from his store's website:

Mission Statement:
"Justice Jewelers exists to help our customers commemorate the special moments of their lives"

Our Pledge Of Customer Satisfaction:
"If it can be done, We're going to do it for you."

Company History:

Justice Jewelers began in August of 1982 when Woody Justice, a GIA Gemologist and instructor, opened an office in Corporate Center and began offering jewelry appraisals and showing jewelry by appointment.

Woody soon realized that the Springfield market was just not ready for the nontraditional business model. he built and after a bit of research, Woody discovered that there was no traditional store in Springfield with generations of history. The oldest store in the area was begun after World War II and it was closing down.

At that time, there were only one or two stores competing for market leadership. Woody Justice immediately saw that the market in Springfield was open for someone with a long-term plan to become the  premier jewelry store in Springfield.

In 1984, Woody moved to a more traditional retail store, and opened Justice Jewelers at 1308 E Sunshine. In 1989, Woody began his famous radio advertising, using late-night radio to advertise engagement rings to younger couples. Now, there are very few people in Springfield who have not heard Woody's resonant voice on his or her radio.

In 1990, Justice Jewelers moved to a larger, more convenient location in the Brentwood Center, across from the Battlefield Mall in Springfield. With Justice Jeweler's now famous radio ads Justice Jewelers experienced five solid years of sales growth. Then, in 1994, Justice Jewelers had simply outgrown its location. It was overcrowded, there was a lack of show space, and we were unable to broaden our product lines to satisfy the needs of our customers.

The decision was made to move to a new idea in Jewelry Retail. Justice Jewelers began building a new home, on Highway 65 and Battlefield, which would allow them to grow even more. In May of 1996, Justice Jewelers' new Superstore opened with a 9,500-sq. ft. building, 5,000-sq. ft. showroom, and approximately 320 lineal feet of showcase space. The new site also included much larger repair facility, with room for 6 goldsmiths and a watchmaker. A drive up window in the shop has made the repair services very convenient.

Today, Justice Jewelers continues to bring Springfield Missouri the very best in fine Jewelry at an affordable price. With the largest showroom in town, you are sure to find something to suit your taste and your budget, and with an in-house financing, Jewelers Credit Company can help stretch that budget.

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