Ida Bondareff, 86, who helped operate a well known family market in Northwest Washington for nearly 50 years, died of a pulmonary embolism Thursday at Carriage Hill nursing home in Silver Spring.
She and her husband, Abraham Bondareff, bought the Broad Branch Market at Northampton and Broad Branch Road NW in 1926.
At that time, the side streets of the Chevy Chase neighborhood were unpaved, trolley cars ran on Connecticut Avenue, and there were four farmhouses across the street where Lafayette Elementary School now stands.
Although the city around it changed over the years, the store did not. The Bondareffs extended credit to families "waiting for their boats to come in," Mrs. Bondareff once explained in an interview with a Washington Post reporter in 1975.
The store looked much like the surrounding homes, except for a small parking lot. The store was divided into four rooms on the ground floor that were stacked floor to ceiling with wooden shelves. Butchers still worked behind the counter and there was no prewrapped meat on sale.
Neighborhood children congregated at the store to buy candy and ice cream, and their parents gathered to exchange the latest community news, chat with the staff, and peruse a bulletin board devoted to announcements of school picnics, garage sales, and appeals for lost dogs.
Mr. Bondareff died in 1950, and his son and daughter-in-law became the managers of the family business.
In the 1975 interview, Mrs. Bondareff, or "Miss Ida," as she was known to friends and customers, explained why she continued to help run the store.
"All the wonderful friends, so much more than customers. I would not want to change any of this," she said. She went on to explain that the store had been her whole life, so it was "hard to stay at home and do nothing."
Although poor eyesight prevented her from writing telephone orders, she could still wait on customers and chat with friends or strangers. She retired and the store was sold in 1975.
Mrs. Bondareff was born in Russia and came to Washington at the age of 13. She and her husband were married in 1912, and opened their first store in Washington seven years later.
She is survived by a daughter, Helen B. Feldberg, of the home in Silver Spring; a son, Daniel N., of Washington; a sister, Sophie Booth, of Pompano Beach, Fla,; two brothers, Morris J. Gurevich, of College Park, and Dr. Bernard J. Gurwin, of Sumner; five grandchildren, and five great-granchildren.