Forks in the road: Diamonds are for family

John and Isabel Dufore, pictured, began a sparkling Oswego dynasty that remains diamond strong to this day, writes John Sullivan in this week's edition of "Forks in the Road."

Carol Channing told us diamonds are a girl’s best friend, and Shirley Bassey knew diamonds are forever — this must mean Greg and Mark Dufore know their way around more than just a jeweler’s loupe and chain.

Dufore’s for Diamonds is their famed jewelry outlet, and many an Oswego engagement has been launched on the linchpin of a piece from the West Second Street store. Mine was, and on the budget of a simple law student, we still managed to pick a diamond that dazzled. My betrothed, Charlotte, made up for it’s diminutive size by buying a newer and bigger one every decade or so but the original is still a sparkler. We became long and faithful customers.

Greg and Mark’s sister, Joanna, married Richard Mulcahey and is also involved in the family business.

John Dufore started the business more than 50 years ago, and his children continue the tradition from their current location in the heart of the Port City on the corner of West Second and West Schuyler streets.

John hailed from the Ogdensburg area, and his wife, Isabel, from nearby Canada. After working for Lemp’s jewelry in Syracuse, John started his business in the back of Ange Vona’s gift shop on West First Street before moving to the current location in 1956 after a fire.

John DuFore was also a member of James H. Lally’s famed St. Mary’s church men’s choir. He sang in a 24-karat voice at many a midnight mass along with the likes of Billy Joyce, Joe Bosco, John Donovan, Francis Dehm and many others. While cutting and polishing diamonds was his stock in trade, the singing of inspiring hymns in harmony was a close second.

Greg married into the prominent and prodigious Canale family, and he and his wife Jean make their home in a prominent lakefront spot near Breitbeck Park There are three other Dufore children: David, Michelle, and Timmy.

The Dufore home has been the scene of man family holiday gatherings. Dave married another Canale sister, Michelle. Mark is married to Lisa, a talented frame artist.  Timothy, who is married to Julie, is also in the jewelry business selling Citizen’s Quartz watches throughout the northeast.

John and Isabelle’s devout Catholic faith and kindness went a long way in defining them. According to Liz Dorsey, who offered a remembrance of Mr. Dufore for this column, she went shopping for a birthday present for her husband and picked out just the right gift at DuFore’s before concluding it was too expensive for her. Never mind, said John DuFore. “Your credit is good with me.” I am sure he helped many couples of less than robust means find their dream rings.

For any business to survive for 64 years is remarkable in this big-box store culture. I am sure it was the personal touch of John and Isabel, and continued by his children, that has made all the difference. DuFore’s is a business that sparkles in Oswego — let’s hope they shine on for many more years to come.

John T. Sullivan Jr. is a former Oswego Mayor and the author of three books, “Forks In The Road” parts I and II and an autobiography “Pee Not Your Pants — Memoirs of a small time mayor with big time ideas,” available locally in the river’s end bookstore and online. 

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