How a good Samaritan helps keep a family tradition going.

Robert H. (Bobby) Lackner has been in the fine jewelry business for over 50 years; in fact his family opened the first Lackner Jewelers in downtown Brownsville in 1907. His grandfather R.L. Lackner had jewelry businesses in Missouri and Arkansas before coming to the Rio Grande Valley.  He was skilled in the arts of hand engraving and watch repair and had moved to South Texas to be near the railroad, its employees and the timepieces they owned which were critical to running a railroad.
After a series of peso devaluations and a battered economy, Bobby Lackner moved out of the downtown area and opened his retail store on the North side of town still featuring fine jewelry and watch repair.  His daughter Lisa is now an integral part of the family business now called R.H. Lackner’s Fine Jewelry & Watch Repair, and helps her dad keep the family tradition alive after more than a hundred years.

That’s when a Good Samaritan walked through his doors and surprised him with a family keepsake that he wasn’t really even aware of.

“I was tending business one Saturday, when an older gentleman walked through the doors and asked to speak to Mr. Lackner”, recalls Bobby.  “After introductions, he asked me to follow him to his truck parked just outside to show me something he had found.  And to my surprise in the bed of his truck was an old antique iron clock with the words R.L. Lackner, Jeweler and Watch Repair painted on it. It was obviously an antique, rather worn and battered but still intact”, says Bobby.

“He proceeded to tell me that he had found this in a downtown alley, close to where we had the original family store. Then, to my surprise, this complete stranger asked me if I wanted the antique item; he was prepared to give it to me.  I offered him money, but he turned me down, saying that he knew I would cherish something from the past with my family name on it.  I finally convinced him to accept money in return for the gift, leaving me with the antique and lots of questions about its origin.”

“Something about the old clock was familiar, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it”, remembers Bobby. “Then it dawned on me. On my bookshelf in my office was a small, old sepia-toned photo of my grandfather standing in front of his jewelry store in downtown Brownsville and above him hanging from the store’s outside overhang was that same clock!
The photo was circa the early 1900’s so that clock has been around for about a hundred years”, he said.
“That was Grandfather Lackner’s storefront sign.”

Bobby Lackner has thought about having the item restored, but as of right now he is leaving it “as is” and will have it on display at his retail store on Pablo Kisel Blvd. as a reminder that his family tradition is alive and well in Brownsville.
“Over a hundred years and we’re still ticking!” says Bobby Lackner.  “Hopefully grandfather would be proud. I know I am.”