Family, friends remember Ozzie Judah

Published 8:37 am Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Family, friends and neighbors said goodbye Friday to Ozzie Judah, owner and operator of Camellia City Bakery & Deli.

Judah, 60, died Jan. 8.

According to his wife, Ann, Ozzie was in the hospital for about two weeks prior to his death.  She said he had complications due to congestive heart failure.

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Ozzie and Ann, both natives of Dothan, Ala., moved to Greenville in 2010 to be closer to their daughter, LeAnn, son-in-law Josh McLendon, and first born grandchild, Sam Judah.

“Ozzie and I relocated to the area to be near our daughter and her family,” Ann said.  “We are a very close family and it was important for us to be together and be able to spend time with each other without being separated by such a long distance.”

The couple made Greenville their place of residency and soon established it as their place of business, opening Camellia City Bakery & Deli.

“Ozzie and I had been in the restaurant business for many years, and we wanted to continue that business here the Camellia City,” Ann said. “We drove all over town, talked to a lot of people in the community, and realized that there was a need for a bakery and deli type establishment. We found

the perfect location and carried on Ozzie’s love for cooking by opening Camellia City Bakery & Deli.”

Established in 2010, the bakery, then located in a small building just off the main stretch of Commerce Street, offered customers a variety of items, from freshly baked cinnamon rolls and cupcakes to chicken salad and pimento cheese sandwiches.  As the menu items expanded and the customer base grew, the Judahs made the move to the bakery’s current location on East Commerce Street in July 2013.

Ozzie was born and raised in Dothan, a 1972 graduate of Dothan High School, attended George C. Wallace Junior College where he first met his wife-to-be, Ann, before transferring to the University of Alabama in 1975 to pursue a degree in public relations and community art. He was also a member of Phi Sigma Kappa.

According to Ann, the couple attended junior high and high school together, but a mutual friend officially introduced them while they were both attending junior college.

“I was working on my nursing degree during the day and my real estate license at night when we met, and Ozzie was getting ready to transfer to the University of Alabama,” Ann said. “The first time we met he told me that he was going to marry me one day. We had our first date on June 21, 1975, he cooked supper for me and took me to a movie.”  Ozzie’s intuition and persistence paid off and the couple married on Oct. 2, 1976.

The Judahs made their home in Dothan and welcomed their daughter, LeAnn in October of 1980.  Ozzie started his early career at Ann’s fathers business, the Snellgrove Company.  During this time he continued his love for cooking and catering by directing local weddings and catering events, and hosting weekly community dinners at their home.  Ann said that Ozzie always loved to cook.

“If he could cook and make people happy at the same time, he was happy,” she said.  According to LeAnn Judah McLendon, Ozzie wanted everyone to have the most perfect event possible.

“Daddy just loved to make people happy,” said McLendon. “Whatever daddy did, he did it 100 percent, and he never did a halfway job.  It always had to be perfect.”

In 1987 Ozzie accepted a position with Bay Limousine Company that would lead to a 15-year career of driving famous music artists and traveling to various events.

In 2004 the Judahs opened a The Red Owl Plantation Restaurant in Dothan. The restaurant became a well-known eatery to locals and visitors, and catered to large parties like Troy University’s Athletic Club.  The Red Owl Plantation was in operation from 2004 until 2010, when the couple sold the property and relocated to Greenville and opened Camellia City Bakery & Deli.

Local customers and business neighbors said that Ozzie’s passing has left a void in downtown Greenville that will forever be felt in the hearts of the community.  Family friend and customer, Mollie Smith Waters, said that she got the chance to know Ozzie through LeAnn, who is a co-worker at LBW Community College’s Greenville campus.

“The Judahs often catered events at our school, and I was always impressed by the delicious items they served,” said Waters.  “When they opened the bakery I got to know them much better because I would eat meals there or pick up a delicious snack.  This fall, when the Greenville Community Theatre put on its dinner theater shows, I got to work very closely with Ozzie and Ann because the shows were at the bakery.  It was such a pleasure to make plans with them and then see those plans come to fruition.  Ozzie was a genius when it came to the kitchen.  He gave us a lesson on plate presentation that I’ll never forget.  What I’ll remember most about Mr. Ozzie, though, is his friendliness and love for his family. When I say family, I mean his biological relatives and all of the rest of us whom he adopted as his own.  He will truly be missed by this community and everyone who had the pleasure to know him.”

Dr. Jim Krudop, director of LBW’s Greenville campus, said that Ozzie was one of the most exciting, enthusiastic, upbeat people that he’s ever met.

“He’s led such an interesting life and always had interesting stories to share,” said Krudop.   “Ozzie was extremely intelligent and so creative.  We [LBWCC Greenville campus] always give our donors one of Ozzie’s special red velvet cakes at Christmas as a token of our appreciation for their support throughout the year.  I had no idea that picking up the cakes this past December would be the last time that I would see him.  He and his wife, Ann, were truly a dynamic pair together.  Ozzie had a genuine care and concern, and a deep dedication to this town. He operated a first-class business and had a first-class personality.  His passing has left our community devastated and we’ve lost a fantastic man.”

Business neighbor and regular customer, Harriett B. Foshee, said Ozzie was the kind of person that made you feel like you had known him all your life.

“The first time I met him was when he and Ann brought sandwiches to the Greenville Community Theater’s rehearsal of ‘Steel Magnolias,’” said Foshee.  “Doing for others was typical of Ozzie.  I will miss that in him and his smile and friendliness.  I thank God that He brought Ann and Ozzie to Greenville.”

Ann, and LeAnn plan to reopen the business in March.

“The bakery was Ozzie’s dream,” Ann said. “We are a family business and we plan to carry on Ozzie’s love and commitment to Camellia City Bakery & Deli.  Ozzie had a wonderful life and I am so thankful that God brought such a wonderful man to us.  He lived life to the fullest and always did things from his heart.  Family was so important to him and he’s given us so many wonderful memories and so much to be thankful for.  He loved me, LeAnn and Josh, and our precious grandchildren, Sam Judah and Ann Knox, unconditionally. He was a blessing to us all.”