Jack Price, the longtime owner of Vintage Fountain Pen Sales & Repair, 3481 N. High St., was remembered last week by friends as a bit of a character, but also a man of abiding passions and a depth of knowledge in many subjects.
Price, who was born Mervin J. Pribil in Cleveland on Dec. 12, 1936, died Aug. 2. He was 80.
When it comes to Price, there is one thing on which everyone, from friends to people who wrote Yelp reviews of his business, seems to agree: Conversations with him were always interesting.
"Jack was quite a character," said Terry Mawhorter, longtime organizer of the Ohio Pen Show, which Price helped found more than two decades ago. "He was much diversified in his interests."
"He was very eclectic," said Dr. Stephen M. Berger, a retired cardiologist from Worthington and one of Price's closest friends. "He was very informed about certain areas. He was an expert on cameras; he once worked in a camera store. He was interested in classical music. He knew a lot about jazz. He knew a lot about Napoleon. He knew a lot about the Holocaust.
"Although he was very secular, he was very proud of his Jewishness."
Orchestra leader Vaughn Wiester has been a tenant of Price's in the North High Street building for the past 14 years.
"He was always very pleasant to me," Wiester said. "The very day I moved in, he was hanging around and watched me moving in. He seemed like he was happy I was there. We always liked each other. He was a little bit of a nutcase. He'd go off on stuff. He was an interesting guy, an intelligent guy. He was particularly fond of his Napoleon collection, whether it was reading or memorabilia or anything.
"Jack also loved violin music. He loved the great stars, the great violinists. He was real deep into all that."
Price's bar mitzvah was held in 1949. He graduated from Heights High School in 1955, then attended Ohio State University and served in the U.S. Army Reserves.
At various times he also owned a record store, a record-supply business and an antique shop, then taught driving before establishing his pen store, where he sold and repaired antique pens, cameras and other collectibles.
Sensing changes in the market, Price eventually turned his focus to online sales and became one of the first people to run a successful eBay business.
Berger said he wasn't sure Price ever cleaned his pen store, but added in spite of appearances, he was exceptionally organized in keeping inventory and fulfilling eBay orders.
In addition to helping start the Ohio Pen Show, he was one of the charter members of the Ohio Camera Collectors Society.
"He always had an interesting story to tell and he was a valuable resource to talk to about collecting, about the early days of camera collecting," said society President Dan Hausman.
Price attended performances of Vaughn Wiester's Famous Jazz Orchestra almost every Monday for decades, including the current ongoing gig at the Clintonville Woman's Club.
"He was there almost every doggone night," Wiester said. "Every now and then he didn't show up. When he did show up, he always had on a loud tie and a goofy hat and suspenders -- anything to make him look ridiculous."
"I'll miss him terribly," Wiester said. "The building is kind of quiet without him."
Vintage Fountain Pen Sales & Repair is closed permanently, according to the outgoing message left on the shop's answering machine.
Price was buried Aug. 14 at Oak Grove Cemetery in Delaware. He is survived by his wife, Darlene, his college sweetheart, whom he married in 2013. He also is survived by his daughter, Christine Barker; two grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; and other relatives.