Groovy couple

LeAnne and Andrew Jakubeit inside The Grooveyard, their music store with more, around the time of its 30th anniversary in September.

Years before it became a colourful institution on the 200 block of Main Street, The Grooveyard record store was headquartered on Nanaimo Avenue, where local bands would be invited to play a few times a month for all ages, particularly people too young to join in the music scene at local bars.

LeAnne Jakubeit’s idea was a hit with music lovers and combined some of the things she was most passionate about.

“It was an opportunity for youth to see live music and to showcase live music. That was important to her: live music and youth,” recalled her husband, Andrew.

The Grooveyard went quiet this past weekend as staff mourned the death of its founder, LeAnne, who died Saturday in Penticton Regional Hospital at age 59 after a short battle with cancer.

Andrew said she was initially diagnosed with cancer last year, but received treatment for it, before the disease returned with a vengeance in recent weeks.

 LeAnne is also survived by her mother Marie, two adult children, Dustin and Ronni, and grandson Hawksley.

As he looked back on the life of his wife of 29 years, Andrew recalled her befriending a homeless man, in whose memory she organized a community memorial in 2015, and even one of her customers, whom she later drove to medical appointments and visited at his care home.

“I guess those are examples of her heart,” said Andrew, who turned 50 on Monday.

She went into business for herself in 1987 after losing her job as music department assistant manager when Kelly’s Stereo Mart closed. The then-single mother rented space in another stereo store for two years, before meeting Andrew and moving into a handful of other spaces – always downtown.

“She was a big believer in downtown and supporting downtown,” said Andrew.

Over the years, The Grooveyard branched out into mail-order and online sales, plus offered all kinds of unique merchandise not available anywhere else, but also remained a destination for music lovers looking to add to their collections.

Along the way, Andrew spent 10 years in local politics, which ended with his term as Penticton mayor from 2014-18. That was an uncomfortable time for LeAnne.

“For being so well-known, she was still a private person and a home body and definitely preferred that,” said Andrew, who noted his family’s appreciation for the words of support they’ve received in recent days.

LeAnne is also fondly remembered by the current mayor, John Vassilaki, a fellow local business person.

Vassilaki said he admired her devotion to the downtown and welcomed the variety she provided to local shoppers.

“Her store always had something different and something new in there. The young people of the community really appreciated it. And she was always conscientious about how she ran it, that it was run property,” said Vassilaki.

“The other good things is she always hired young people, so she gave people a chance to get started in the workforce.”

Vassilaki also remembers LeAnne as unfailingly positive.

“She was a very kind person and she always spoke well of other people, and I held her in respect for that,” said Vassilaki.

The executive director of the Downtown Penticton Association said The Grooveyard’s longevity is a testament to its founder’s determination.

“When a business succeeds for over 30 years, you have to look at the owner and acknowledge their creative vision and passion,” Lynn Allin said in an email.

“LeAnne had the dream to open a one-of-a-kind, funky record shop in downtown that has been loved by locals and tourists for so many years.

“Her support of downtown was evident through her many community contributions. LeAnne was a true entrepreneur who will be missed.”

Anyone wishing to honour LeAnne’s memory is encouraged to make a donation in her name to the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation.