Friends, family and customers of Bob’s Country Meats gathered Sunday to celebrate the life of owner Keith Mowry, who died recently due to health complications.
“We’ve lost an icon in this valley. There is no other shop where you walk in and it’s like Cheers,” longtime customer Lisa Kaminsky said, referring to the American sitcom of a bar “where everybody knows your name.”
During the celebration of life, which was open to the public, many spoke of Mowry, all of whom — regardless of their relationship to him — described him as one of the kindest people they’d ever met.
“I don’t think that people came in (the shop) only for the meat, they came in there to see Keith,” longtime customer James Harvey said, receiving many nods from those in the audience. “People literally went in there to be with him.”
Harvey and others noted that Mowry could’ve moonlighted as a psychologist, as he was always willing to listen.
“That was the happiest place on earth, not Disneyland — Bob’s Country Meats,” Harvey added. “It really was an amazing thing. You don’t see this very often. Boy, what a legacy he left.”
The market “crew” and Mowry’s former employees attested to that, as they stood on stage together talking of their time working for Mowry.
“I think Bob’s Country Meats, that was his home away from home,” said former employee James Schneider. “It was inviting to everybody because … we were able to see him in his prime element, just doing his thing. He loved to be there.”
Mowry was both like a dad and a brother to his employees, who were like family to him, added another former employee, Nate Hoofard.
“We all had an absolute blast. We loved every single second of it,” Hoofard said of his time working at Bob’s Country Meats.
Longtime friend Tim Daily — who is known as Willy at the market — told the story of how he got his nickname from Mowry, who “didn’t like (his) name.”
“He was the kindest man I’ve known in my 78 years,” he said. “Keith was the type (of person) who never had a bad word for anybody. You came in in a bad mood, you left in a good mood.”
Mowry’s younger brother Matt also told stories of his time helping his brother at the butcher shop, recalling wanting to be just like his older brother, who was 13 years his senior.
“He knew everybody that walked through that door pretty much, knew what they wanted, how they liked it a certain way,” Matt said. “It was that daily connection to everybody that came into the store that I think kept him from even thinking about retirement.”
It’s the outpouring of support the family has received from the community, such as those who attended Mowry’s celebration of life, that they appreciate most, Matt said.
“It’s just been unbelievable to see … the support and the outreach from the community,” Matt added. “It’s been wonderful to see how much he meant to this community, to the people that came to the store.”
In lieu of flowers, the Mowry family asks for donations to the GoFundMe that was set up to help his family cover expenses.