By Michael Daniels Journal Staff Writer
On Sunday, December 13, approximately fifty people gathered in front of Jack’s Men’s Wear store at 3314 Dorr St. to participate in a memorial service for the store’s owners, Jeffrey (nicknamed Jack by customers) and Linda Kay Conn. Sadly the couple passed away over the Thanksgiving holiday from COVID-19 complications. Mr. Conn passed away, first on November 24, in the hospital and his wife died on November 27, at home. The couples final rights were performed on December 4, at a private service.
“Beloved and endeared by many in the African American community, Jack’s Men’s Wear was the go-to store, for decades, for African American men, who sought to be in style and fashionably correct.”
This was not a coincidence, according to many, who attended the memorial, many said it was because of his fair prices, superior customer service, and his generosity to African American organizations such as churches and schools.
Vivian Butts, a thirty-plus years employee at Jack’s Men’s Wear and Mistress of Ceremony at the memorial said, “I had a great career at Jack’s. I worked as a seamstress and a salesperson. As a salesperson, he gave us a lot of leeway and freedom. The price on the ticket was never the final price. We were free to do what we needed to do to make the sale, as long as, we didn’t lose money. He was a nice boss, and he was fair, he treated everybody the way he wanted to be treated and I think that’s why so many people liked him. He served all his customers the same, no matter if they were rich or poor, they all received the same level of service from Jack. There was no other store like Jack’s in town,” she said.
A former customer attending the service also testified to Jack’s kindness. Sherese Williamson said, “When my step-father passed away we could not afford a nice suit to bury him. Jack told us to come in and get what we needed and to pay him when we could. I’m here today to honor his life, because he was a very nice person in the community, who helped out a lot of people in the African-American community, especially.”
Pastor Perry Harris III of United Vision Baptist Church added, “Jack’s Men’s Wear has been a staple in the community for as long as I’ve been alive and wearing dress clothes, most of them come from Jack’s Men’s Wear. I’m 37 years old and Jack was good to my grandfather, my father, my son, and to me. He was very supportive, encouraging, and he would meet us where we were when it came to buying his clothes, He always looked out for us as men of fashion. The City of Toledo has suffered a great loss when it comes to men’s fashions, there was only one Jack’s Men’s Wear and there was only one person like Jack.”
Also attending the memorial was the daughter of Jeffrey and Linda Kay Conn, Julie Conn Brown. As she was growing up she worked part-time at the store, on some weekends, as did her brother and her aunt. “It was a family affair,” she said. “My uncles operated similar stores in Michigan and my father learned the business from them. He was an honorable man, who gave respect to everyone, therefore he got a lot of respect back.”
“The death of my parents came as a shock to everyone. They will be missed by their family, friends, store family, the community, and everyone. I really urge everyone to take COVID-19 seriously and protect yourself. The recent events in my family have been very hard to endure.”
The Conn family memorial was organized by former Jack’s Men’s Wear employees Theresa Harris and Vivian Butts.