This Widower Closed His Restaurant After His Wife Died. Then His Customers Gave Him A Big Surprise

 

Images: WTVR

Tody Butner was sitting in his Virginia restaurant surrounded by familiar faces when one of his friends handed him an envelope. Soon, the eatery owner was in floods of tears. He just couldn’t believe what the community had done for him at a time when he needed it most.

Image: Roman Kraft

Tody, who hails from Eastern Henrico, VA, had been married to his wife, Betty, for as long as anybody could remember. But in December 2017 Betty passed away and left Tody a devastated widower. Not only that, but her death also had further implications.

Image: WTVR

You see, for the previous three decades, Betty and Tody had been running a business together. Yes, they were the proud owners of Pinewood Restaurant, a popular spot for locals. The area’s police officers and firemen were frequent visitors to the joint, too.

Image: WTVR

But when Betty passed away, 32 years of business ground to a halt as Tody closed down the restaurant. Plenty of local people were saddened to hear about what had happened to Betty and the well-regarded diner, too.

Image: WTVR

So it was clear that Betty held a special place in her customers’ hearts. Henrico police officer Billy Grimmer explained to TV station CBS 6 News just how remarkable Betty had been. “She would hug you and kiss you on your cheek before you left,” he reminisced.

Image: WTVR

And she would do so even if she didn’t know the customer very well, Grimmer explained. When Betty died, then, it was little wonder that the Pinewood Restaurant customers were sad to have lost such a friendly face. “It was like losing your own mother, it was very hard,” admitted the police officer.

Image: WTVR

So although it was a sad time for everyone who knew the Butners, it was also a chance for the community to come together to show how much they cared. In a show of unparalleled loyalty, many of its regular customers subsequently decided to join forces and do something to help Tody.

Image: WTVR

It seemed that people simply weren’t prepared to see Pinewood Restaurant go under because of Tody’s tragic loss. Despite the fact that nothing could ever bring Betty back, the local community managed to find another way to help the bereaved owner get his restaurant back on its feet.

Image: Mathieu Turle

First of all, the customers clubbed together to raise some money. The aim was to gather enough cash to help cover all the costs  associated with a loved one’s passing. That way, the widower would hopefully be able to afford to keep the cherished restaurant open.

Image: WTVR

A CBS 6 video news report captured the moment that Tody was presented with the donations as he sat in his restaurant. In the footage, Grimmer explains what the community had done, telling Tody, “We love you buddy,” as he hands the owner an envelope and shakes his hand.

Image: WTVR

Incredibly, the local patrons had managed to muster together over $6,000. This meant that the cost of Betty’s cremation was covered. Not only that, but, according to local news station WTVR in December 2017, Tody would also be able to keep the restaurant doors open as a result of the community’s kindness.

Image: WTVR

In the video, Tody is visibly overwhelmed by the community’s actions and has tears streaming down his face as Grimmer hands over the money. In front of a full house of loyal patrons, including many police officers and firemen, the widower announces, “Y’all are the best.”

Image: WTVR

With the extra $6,000, the restaurant was set to reopen just a couple of weeks later. But there was some other big news. As Betty used to be the one in charge in the kitchen, a replacement was needed to take charge of the culinary responsibilities.

Image: Katie Smith

So Tody’s daughter was drafted in to take control of the kitchen in Betty’s absence. Everything seemed set for Tody to get back on track, thanks to the kindness of those around him. And, of course, he was delighted with everyone’s generosity.

Image: WTVR

Too shy to speak directly to reporters, the restaurateur reportedly told his close pal Officer Grimmer, “I feel wonderful about it.” He added, “It’s nice to have good friends and the whole family and all the workers.”

Image: WTVR

With a framed photograph of his beloved late wife sitting on the counter behind him, Tody must have been very emotional that day. But one of Tody’s friends, Mike Elliott, reckoned he could tell that Betty was there in spirit. “You can feel her in the room now,” he said.

Image: WTVR

As if the kindness of the restaurant’s regular patrons wasn’t enough, something else remarkable happened to Tody. A local funeral home, Nelson’s, heard about the widower’s predicament and decided it would pitch in and help, too.

Image: Georg Lippitsch

In fact, the organization offered Tody a significant reduction on the cremation costs. The urn was offered to him at a lower price, too. At a time when a lot of widowers would have felt most alone, the Eastern Henrico community showed Tody just how many people truly cared about him.

Image: WTVR

Although Tody’s tears suggested that he thought what everyone had done for him was pretty incredible, his companion and loyal customer, Grimmer, was very modest about the whole thing. He brushed it off as “something you do from the heart, just friends helping friends.”

Image: WTVR

The financial implications of losing someone you love can be difficult to manage. But thankfully for Tody, there was a whole band of people who had had his back during his time of need. So while he may now be a widower, it’s clear that he’s far from alone in the world.

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