The former Karelis Jewelry store, just prior to demolition last year.
Irving “Sheik” Phillip Karelis, 96, a lifelong Haverhill resident, passed away May 25 at Hannah Duston Healthcare where he had been a resident since 2011.
Karelis was born in Haverhill July 29, 1920, son of the late Max and Annie (Stoleski) Karelis. He was educated in the Haverhill school system and graduated from Haverhill High School in 1938, Tilton School in 1939 and University of New Hampshire in 1943, where he was a standout star athlete at all three schools. Karelis was named to the Tilton School Baseball Hall of Fame and to the University of New Hampshire Baseball Hall of Fame as well.
He still holds the University of New Hampshire record of starting, finishing, and winning both ends of a double header against the University of Maine. That feat happened only a few days before he enlisted in the United States Navy where he became a star pitcher for the Navy at Sampson, N.Y.
At the end of World War II, Karelis was signed by the Boston Red Sox farm team where he played for the Lynn Red Sox for two years before retiring and starting Karelis Jewelers which he owned and operated for 40 years.
Karelis is the last of eight downtown merchants who signed on as boosters of the Haverhill Journal newspaper, when it was formed by the Manchester Union Leader in 1957.
He was the husband of the late Eleanor “Ellie” (Seligman) Karelis who passed away in 2011. He is survived by step daughters Wendy (Gorevitz) Boswell and her husband Tom and Anita (Gorevitz) Ryan and her husband Mark; grandfather to Russell Boswell; as well as seven nephews and one niece. He was predeceased by his siblings, Bernice Berman, Blanch Felser, Lester Karelis and Saul Karelis.
Services, under the direction of H.L. Farmer and Sons Funeral Homes, are private.