The passing of longtime Yellowknife developer Les Rocher this week has spread to old friends from outside of town so much that a drive-by memorial is planned for this coming Sunday at 1 p.m.
Kerry Yamkowy, former owner of Sasha’s Jewellery and Giftware and Key West Travel during her time in Yellowknife from 1983 to 2012, now lives in Nanaimo, B.C. She cannot pay her respects with the Covid-19 ban on incoming visitors, but nonetheless feels that it is important to do something to honour Rocher’s contributions to the community.
“I’m stuck here in Nanaimo and even if I went up I’d have to be in a 14-day quarantine and couldn’t do anything,” she said. “I just think that Les deserves some recognition from the city.
“I called a few people (in Yellowknife) and they all thought it was a good idea.”
Rocher’s passing comes at a time when territorial residents are not allowed to gather in large groups. She is asking anyone interested in honouring Rocher and who has a vehicle to meet at the Multiplex at 1 p.m.
“In unfortunate times that we’re stuck in right now, nobody can really show their emotions or their appreciation,” she explained. “So I just thought, well, people that have birthdays have a drive by or there are drive-bys for anniversaries. Why not have a drive by for Les?”
Yamkowy said the idea picked up quite quickly when she posted about it this week on Facebook.com. People interested in participating are asked to meet at the Multiplex on Sunday afternoon before they are asked to parade down Franklin Avenue toward Old Town and past Rocher’s mother’s home to say goodbye.
“I think this would be really nice for his mom to see,” she said. “She’s about 92 years old and is taking it very hard.”
With the pandemic and public health orders from the GNWT, there will be no get-togethers and all tribute will be done from the vehicles, Yamkowy said.
“Nobody is going to have any contact everybody has to stay in their vehicle,” she said. “So there’s no no contact whatsoever and when they drive by Les’s house, they’ll just honk their horn.”
Yamkowy said Rocher had been a very close friend during the time she and her family was in Yellowknife and echoed what many had to say this week about his generosity, humility and hard work.
“He was always there to help you when you needed him,” she said. “We had a house fire in Yellowknife one time (July 2001 at 29 Otto Drive) and he was the first person there. He hired a security company to drive by the house because people had started to go in after we had the fire.
“He was probably one of the most loyal men that I ever knew. Generous to a fault, a hard worker, rough. One of the biggest characters I’ve ever known in my life.”