Downtown merchants holding memorial for Penticton man

An elderly man who made an impression on many downtown business owners has died and a celebration of his life is being planned.

An elderly man who made an impression on many downtown business owners has died, and with no immediate family available those businesses are now planning a celebration of his life.

LeAnne Jakubeit, co-owner and operator of the Grooveyard, would often see Gordon Kennedy in the morning while walking her dogs.

“We’d always bump into him,” Jakubeit said. “He would always stop and chat and lots of times he would help me shovel my sidewalk. He was a little rough around the edges, but he always had a kind word and was always very encouraging to me.”

Kennedy died on Oct. 3 at 75 years old in hospital, and Jakubeit was able to join him during his final days.

Kennedy was known to love sunbathing, and could be seen downtown with his customized cart doing his bottle route or helping out downtown businesses with small tasks like sweeping storefronts.

“He never wanted to take anything for free, he was a very, very proud man. He had some tough times and no one really knows a lot about his past,” Jakubeit said.

Unable to track down any living relatives, Jakubeit said she and other downtown merchants who were touched by Kennedy are now planning a celebration of life which is only in the preliminary stages, but for now the celebration is tentatively being planned to be held on Random Acts of Kindness day on Nov. 6.

“There’s no known family other than the downtown merchants and other friends that frequent downtown, so we just want to do something for him,” Jakubeit said.

Along with some downtown merchants, employees of services like Access Penticton, who helped Kennedy get off the streets last winter, are getting involved as well.

A Facebook Page, Friends for Gordon Kennedy, has been set up and once a date and time is confirmed for the celebration it will be posted on social media. The group is also working on getting a memorial plaque for Kennedy to be placed in Nanaimo where he was known to frequent.

“He didn’t get dealt the same cards in life as some of us, but always despite that he always had a good word and was always very encouraging. I really enjoyed my chats with him and I’m glad I got to spend some time with him, as sad as it was in the hospital towards the end,” Jakubeit said. “I can’t imagine not having family. He touched a lot of the merchants downtown.”

A Facebook group called Friends for Gordon Kennedy has been set up to share memories of the deceased man.