PELHAM, Ala (WIAT)-- The Pelham community is remembering beloved restaurant owner, Walter Caron, after he passed away February 8.
Caron co-owned Nino's Italian restaurant with Eli Gold.
Gold remembers Caron as "one-of-a-kind".
"Walter made sure that nothing went on in Pelham that we weren't part of, because he genuinely cared for the people," said Gold.
The two made it their mission to serve the community.
Over at the antique store next to Nino's on Hwy 31, the former business owner, Liz Lehman Lemons, shared this story.
I met Walter Caron while the renovations were being finished at my Antique store, Oak Mountain Emporium, next door to Nino's.
He and his wife Chris immediately welcomed us to Pelham. Nino's quickly became our place to eat and with that hear great stories of his family and times in New York.
I found myself popping in during the restaurants slower hours just so I could selfishly steal more of his time and listen even more stories!
Many of our family birthdays were held at Nino's and Walter, Chris and the Nino's family were a big part of it.
I will never forget his gregarious persona, his kindness, love for his family and everyone who were fortunate to come through the door and be greeted by Walter.
He was my friend. I will miss him. We all will.
The Birmingham Bulls Hockey Team remembers Caron as well.
"He was at most the games. But he made sure we were taken care of. He always made sure. We didn't have to ask. He took care of us. And you know, we are going to miss him," said the Bulls general partner, Art Clarkson.
Clarkson says Caron and Gold fed the Bulls and the opposing team at every game.
"He was an integral part of the team."
That community touch defines Caron.
"He was the heartbeat," said Gold, "When everybody came in, he'd pull up a chair. He'd sit down. He'd shoot the breeze with everyone."
Others who knew Caron share fun stories about him.
Shaun Gilmer says he last saw Caron at a Bulls game, but that before then, Caron drove from Pelham to Bessemer to personally deliver food to Gilmer's church.
"You'll never replace Walter. He was an original. He was one-of-a-kind, but his memory will live on, and we'll try and operate this restaurant the way he would've operated the restaurant," said Gold.
Nino's has been in business for almost 10 years now. Gold says they'll continue to operate and serve the community.
Funeral arrangements for Caron are set for Wednesday at 4 p.m. at Charter Funeral Home in Calera.
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