Difficult goodbyes as J.R. Haubrich closes
For nearly 40 years Julie and Roy Leek shared a life and a business. The two opened their jewelry store J.R. Haubrich in downtown Hudson shortly after they were married.
They were planning their farewell to the store, closing it for retirement this year. Now Roy is facing a greater loss after Julie's death in February.
The two first met while working at the same jewelry firm in Minnesota. Back then, Roy was Julie's boss.
"You see how that turned out for me," he said.
They married in January 1981, and opened their own jewelry store later that year in June. The store's name comes from Julie's maiden name Haubrich.
Though the two came from different backgrounds, they had the same dream. Roy had grown up in the jewelry business, with two jeweler parents. Julie was a farm girl.
"We shared the same ambition of owning our own store one day," Roy said.
Working together went well, Roy said, though when they first started they had to figure out who was going to be boss.
"It was absolutely wonderful," Roy said, "but we did have our moments."
The two complemented each other well. Julie with her charming attitude focused on sales, quickly becoming a customer favorite. Roy focused on the bookkeeping and other aspects of the business.
Julie loved caring for her customers, and knew how to connect with them in positive ways.
Experiencing life and running the business with Julie was simply fun, Roy said.
"She loved life and was just full of energy," he said. "She liked to do new things and meet new people."
They saw a lot of faces, new and familiar, over the years. The store has allowed them to develop relationships with regular customers that span generations.
"We held our fourth generation here," Roy said
The sale has brought even more new faces.
"There's new people almost daily that come in here," Roy said.
The two first started planning to close the store and retire last summer. Before they closed down for good, Roy and Julie decided to have one last Christmas season. It's always a busy time of year for the store.
"It was fun," Roy said. "You see people at their very best."
The time has gone by quickly, and Roy is feeling Julie's absence.
"I sure wish she could have been able to participate in this," Roy said.
She would have loved it, he said.
"Julie was just a wonderful person," Roy said. "She just loved her customers, and they loved her."
As the store closes, Roy said he would like the store to be remembered for its customer service.
"I hope people know that we really enjoyed our customers," he said. "We enjoyed taking care of their needs."
Looking back at those 38 years, Roy can't narrow down a favorite moment.
"Every year was exceptional," he said.