Downriver Bar Hosts Longtime Employee’s Wake, Funeral

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TAYLOR (AP) – A man who wanted his funeral held at the suburban Detroit bar where he worked for about 25 years had his wish fulfilled.

Family and friends gathered Wednesday at All Around Bar in Taylor for a wake for Jimmy Lehr, who died Feb. 7 at the age of 58 after having pulmonary disease and congestive heart failure, the Detroit Free Press reported. A funeral at the bar will take place Thursday.

“This was his home,” said Dave Karlson, who owns the bar with his wife, Shelia.

Lehr began working at the bar in the 1980s, Dave Karlson said. He was a bouncer, doorman and manager who also did odd jobs.

“We’d see a problem occurring at a table, and Jimmy could come up and say, `Hey, come on buddy, everybody is friends here.’ Nobody ever felt threatened by him. That was the secret,” Shelia Karlson said.

After Lehr died, family and friends built his pine casket at the bar. Country music played in the background as they gathered Wednesday in the dimly lit room. People played darts and pool, and Lehr’s casket was surrounded by flowers on the bar’s dance floor.

Lehr was married four times. The Taylor man’s last wedding, to Patti, was held in 1996 on the same dance floor where his body lay in the casket.

Howe-Peterson Funeral Home in Taylor transported the body. Funeral home manager Michael Mientkiewicz met Lehr at a funeral years ago and got to know him at the bar, where Lehr described to him what he wanted for his own funeral and wake.

“He was so well liked, and he made a lot of connections,” Mientkiewicz said. “It seemed like the right thing to do.”

Outside the bar, a sign announced the funeral and wake times. Pictures of Lehr were spread across the bar and placed on poster boards.

“This is what he would have wanted,” said niece Amy Taro, of Dearborn Heights.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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