Hundreds pack The Royal Grove to honor longtime owner - News, Weather and Sports for Lincoln, NE; KLKNTV.com

Hundreds pack The Royal Grove to honor longtime owner

Hundreds pack The Royal Grove to honor longtime owner

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It was a packed house reminiscent of the 80's and 90's at The Royal Grove club on West Cornhusker Friday night. 

Hundreds of longtime patrons filled the club to celebrate the life of Tommy Jelsma, who operated The Grove for 58 years. 

Jelsma passed away in December at the age of 90.

"He had the best rock and roll club in the Midwest," said Marvin Garcia, a friend of Jelsma. 

Garcia snuck into The Grove when he was 17 and has been coming back ever since. 

He says Jelsma always knew how to make sure people had a good time. 

"He always had a smile," Garcia said. 

"He was a nice guy. Sat up front for all those years and greeted everybody. I always thought he treated everybody the same - didn't matter who you are." 

The Grove was known for giving local bands their first shots on stage. 

Gabe Matthews got his start in the club decades ago, and was back Friday night to play in Jelsma's honor. 

"We got our shot coming here playing on a Tuesday night or something in front of about 12 people," Matthews said. 

"It was worth it to get on that stage and say we played The Grove." 

Many in attendance offered memories and well-wishes to Jelsma, writing them on one of the club walls. 

Five generations of Jelsma's family were in attendance.

They say he died peacefully at his home. 

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