Local News

Jul 1, 2014 10:23 PM by Bart Bedsole - bbedsole@kristv.com

Longtime Panjo's Piano Player Passes Away

CORPUS CHRISTI - Bubba Jacobs, the longtime piano player at Panjo's Pizza on Airline, died this week at the age of 85.

He never cooked the pizza, but Bubba was a big part of what made Panjo's great.

A part of the family-owned company since it opened in 1964, Bubba was someone you could count on seeing every time.

He was actually second piano player hired for the job.

The first one lasted only a few days.

Bubba held the job for the next 50 years.

"You know, you could have a hard day or all week and everything, and you come in on Friday and Saturday night, and he would just, he made you happy," recalls Panjo's patron Jimbo Polansky.

"He made you forget everything for a couple of hours. The kids had fun, and he was just an amazing person."

Linda Biediger adds, "He had an undying love for his wife, who sat at that table every night that he ever played here."

"We're going to miss him," says Ray Ramirez, who frequently sang and played alongside Bubba.

"He had his bucket of bubble gum for all the kids. He left a lot of memories."

A marine himself, Bubba was known for his military songs as much as any others, as well as interacting with the crowd, according to his granddaughter, Katlyn Garrett.

"He played a big role teaching, like he would let people come up and play the piano," she explains, "he would let them come up and do the chicken dance, he would play the chicken dance just for the little kids to come up and dance."

Bubba was playing at Panjo's just last weekend, and his death on Monday night was unexpected.

Garrett wants people to know that he was just as kind and generous away from the piano as he was on it.

"Very selfless, cared for everybody," she says, "even if he didn't know you, he was here to take care of you."

Garrett said she doesn't plan on bringing in anyone to replace Bubba, mainly because no one can replace Bubba, but also because the piano is locked.

Bubba kept the keys with him in his briefcase, and no one else has a copy.

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