Hamid Houweidi, owner of Telegraph Market on the corner of Dwight Way and Telegraph Avenue, died of a heart attack approximately three weeks ago. According to locals, he was about 53 and is survived by a wife and two sons.
In addition to a private funeral, some 60 locals held a memorial outside Houweidi’s storefront to commemorate the person they say tied everyone in the Telegraph community together. April Stewart, who works at The Berkeley Hat Company, says Houweidi was the nicest person she’d ever met.
Stewart says Houweidi is the reason a lot of the people on Telegraph Avenue have jobs and a place to live. He let locals down-on-their-luck purchase food at his store on credit. They could pay him back when they had the money. In fact, many people were still coming into the to pay Houweidi back even after he died. Stewart kept the money in a paper bag and gave it to Houweidi’s wife at the memorial service.
Stewart claims Houweidi’s compassion gave people, “a foot up from the hole they were in. It gave them self-esteem.” John Pinto Jr. is someone who experienced firsthand the kindness of Houweidi. He remembers a time when he needed shaving materials and Houweidi made a special trip to the supplier for him. “I eventually paid him back,” Pinto says. “He was a beautiful man. He treated everyone like a human being.”