YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

The Nation

Coffee and Eulogies for Regular at Restaurant

June 14, 2003|From Associated Press

JEFFERSON, Ga. — The place Lawrence "Tuna" Clark called his "office" -- the Waffle House on Highway 129 -- became the site of his funeral as waitresses, cooks and customers remembered the good deeds the longtime regular did for them.

Clark, who died June 6 after a long illness, ate at the restaurant at least once a day and befriended many of the restaurant's employees, who called him "the Waffle House taxi service" because he drove them to work when they had no transportation.

"We wouldn't have jobs without him. Where would our kids be without him?" asked Belinda Cole, who attended Thursday's funeral.

Clark's jacket was slung over his favorite chair, and black coffee, milk and cigarettes sat side by side on the counter, the way he always placed them.

The 67-year-old bachelor's ashes were placed on the hood of a Chevrolet parked in his favorite parking space. Large boards displaying family photos were covered with funeral wreaths and loose flowers.

Clark's niece, Joyce Bicksler, said that in his last days he told her he wanted to be memorialized at the restaurant.

"He wanted people to remember him as he was. He didn't want to be in a casket," Bicksler said. "He wanted to be here."

Waitress Terri Treadaway said Clark drove her to the Waffle House every day for three months when her car was broken.

He was known for ordering scrambled eggs on lightly toasted bread, but he would eat just about anything on the menu.

Clark also was known at several other Waffle Houses, in part because he continued to help employees after they got transferred or moved.

"You could go from Braselton to the South Carolina line, and people in the Waffle House will know him," Treadaway said.

Waffle House Vice President Pat Warner said Thursday's restaurant funeral was the first he had heard of.

Los Angeles Times Articles