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Goodman, Petronila Maria Pereida (1887–1978)

Barbara Robedeau Biography

Petronila Pereida Goodman, businesswoman, was born on January 26, 1887, in San Antonio, the daughter of Rafael and Anna (Schuetze) Pereida. She left St. Joseph's Academy after the seventh grade to contribute to the family income by working as a watchmaker in her father's jewelry store, the first in San Antonio. She audited education courses as an adult at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio. Her father died when she was twenty, leaving the family in severe financial difficulty. His store closed, and her mother rented the bedrooms and the parlor of their home to boarders while the family slept on the back porch.

In 1907 Petronila became the first woman employee at Eli Hertzberg's jewelry store in San Antonio. Her salary of five dollars a week was barely enough to support her mother and younger brother and sister. She owned a blouse, a skirt, and a pair of shoes with newspaper soles. Thirty-three years later she became the president and sole proprietor of Hertzberg's, the largest jewelry company in the city.

When Hertzberg died in 1908, his brother-in-law Max Goodman became president of the business, and for the next twenty years Goodman and Pereida worked together. In addition to making watches, she worked in the sales, shipping, and bookkeeping departments. When she demanded that Goodman raise her salary to equal that of a male employee with the same job, he agreed. He and Pereida were married in 1927, when he was fifty and she forty. Religious differences-he was Jewish and she Catholic-contributed to the marriage's delay. During their first three years of marriage the couple had two daughters, and Petronila, also called Nell, continued to work in the store. In 1931 Goodman died of a stroke. Petronila continued to work at Hertzberg's, and in 1940 she became president and sole owner by buying controlling shares of the business from Hertzberg family members and employees.

Petronila Goodman earned respect from the business community as Hertzberg's president during the 1940s. In 1941 she hired Annie Laurie Ector, one of the first black sales clerks in San Antonio. Eventually, the growth of chain stores and their ability to reduce prices by purchasing in volume prevented her from competing successfully as an independent store owner. In 1964 she sold Hertzberg's to the Zale Jewelry Corporation.

She was a member of the Zonta Club, the Tuesday Musical Club and the Catholic Daughters of the Americas. She died on September 25, 1978, in San Antonio. The Hertzberg clock, a part of the store's exterior since its founding, was donated to the San Antonio Conservation Society by the Goodman daughters in memory of their parents.

San Antonio Express, September 26, 1978.


  • Women
  • Business

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Barbara Robedeau, “Goodman, Petronila Maria Pereida,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 26, 2020,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: