March 5, 1924 – Nov. 19, 2013
Arthur F. Kubera, of Cheektowaga, a musician, band leader and music store owner, died Tuesday after a short illness. He was 89.
Born in Buffalo, he began the accordion at age 8, played in school bands and was a graduate of East High School.
After leading his own bands for several years, Mr. Kubera opened a music store on Fillmore Avenue in 1949 as an accordion studio. At one time, he had more than 300 students. The studio evolved into a full-line musical instrument store, specializing in hard-to-find items.
The store became a mecca for local musicians, and Mr. Kubera abetted many of them by letting them take instruments and equipment on credit as they were launching their careers.
“He was the heart and soul of so many of us,” musician Gary White wrote on the Kubera Music Facebook page, “and without him a lot of Buffalo’s best musicians would have fallen. No one else in the business would let you walk out the door with [an] amp and let you pay it off later.”
His most famous act of kindness involved the fabled jazz organ player Dr. Lonnie Smith.
In need of an instrument for a date early in his career, Smith went to Kubera’s Music Store, where he hung around frequently. Mr. Kubera took him to a Hammond B-3 in the back room and told him that if he could move the 425-pound organ, he could have it. Smith did.
Mr. Kubera closed the music store in 1997, but continued to work as the leader of a big band, the Art Kubera Continental Orchestra, and as an accordionist in small combos.
Earlier in his career, he was the leader of the longtime house band at the Polish Village on Broadway and a studio musician on many radio shows.
He received a Special Achievement Award at the Buffalo Music Awards in 1984 and was inducted into the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame in 2002.
He was a member of St. Gabriel’s Church and its Holy Name Society, the Knights of Columbus, the Professional Businessmen’s Association of Buffalo and Local 92, American Federation of Musicians.
He also helped organize the annual Commodores Golf Cruise to Cross Creek Resort in Titusville, Pa.
His wife of 63 years, the former Irene Klawinski, died in 2010.
Survivors include a son, Michael; a daughter, Suzie Kaczorowski; and a brother, Leonard.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Saturday in St. Gabriel’s Church, 5271 Clinton St., Elma.