Louis Opall (c.1902- 1972) and his family immigrated to Palestine from their native Russia in 1906 to escape the threat of pogroms. He was an aide to a British officer during World War I and learned English by spending time with British troops. About 1920, he sailed to the United States, landing in New York. He joined an uncle in Baltimore, who paid his way to Western Pennsylvania. After running a business in Masontown, Pa. for many years, he moved to Uniontown, Pa. in 1939. Initially, he sold wallpaper and paint from the back of the Keystone Grocery Store on Main Street. The business moved several times over the following decades and later expanded into furniture and was renamed Opall’s.
Louis Opall and his wife Mary had one child, Morton Opall (b.1937). Morton worked in the family store as a child. After graduating from public schools in Uniontown in 1955, he attended Penn State University for two years before enlisting in the U.S. Marines in 1957, serving in Okinawa, Japan. When he returned to Uniontown, he expanded the family business to include the sale of furniture, having gained some experience in the field during college.
While attending a B’nai B’rith Youth Organization event in Pittsburgh, Morton Opall met Rosalie Gland of McKeesport, Pa. They married in 1960, after she graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in education. Her maternal grandparents, Morris and Rose Weintraub, ran a confectionary store in McKeesport. They had a daughter, Ethel. While visiting friends in New York in 1938, Ethel Weintraub met Max Gland, a furrier who had emigrated from Poland in the early 1900s. They lived in New York for the first years of their marriage. As the high-end clothing market declined during the end of the Great Depression and the beginning of World War II, they returned to McKeesport to live with family in a large house on Sixth Street. Max and Ethel Gland had three children, Claire, Arlene and Rosalie. They attended Congregation Sfard Anshe Galicia.
As a business catering primarily to working class customers, Opall’s suffered as mills and mines throughout the region closed or reduced operations throughout the late 1970s and 1980s. The couple changed the name and the focus of the business to Opall’s Just Beds in 1988, which allowed them to continue until 2006, when they sold the business to a chain.
The Opalls were members of Tree of Life Congregation in Uniontown and the Jewish Community Center of Uniontown. Morton Opall was a president of the local B’nai B’rith chapter and Rosalie Opall was a president of the local Hadassah chapter. They were part of the communal effort to establish a Holocaust memorial in Uniontown in 1982.