BATESBURG-LEESVILLE, SC (WIS) - Even though it's an off day, Shealy's Barbecue in a little more empty than usual Wednesday.
That's because Sara Shealy, who started cooking vegetables while her husband made pork for over 40 years, is gone. She died Monday at the age of 89.
Steve Zwart is best friends Sara's son, and says she was just like a mom.
"This restaurant lit up when Mrs. Sara walked into it," said Zwart. "She was truly the matriarch of this facility and people came here to see her. They came here to see her smile."
Through the years, Shealy's grew to cater events for up to 4,000 people. Then they started selling their sauce in red, yellow and vinegar flavors in major grocery chains.
"The success that has come from the product she's served over the years, but also the feeling when you come to Shealy's, you were coming home," said Zwart.
Shealy also held post on town council, founded the Poultry Festival, which attracts thousands each year, and she played host to visitors from all over.
It seems people will travel far for service with a smile.
"As long as that sign's out there and says Shealy's Barbecue, this will be Mrs. Sara's for as long as it stands," said Zwart.
The viewing for Shealy is Wednesday night in Batesburg-Leesville from 6:00pm - 9:00pm at Barr-Price Funeral Home.
The funeral is Thursday at 3:00pm at St. Paul's Church. It is open to the public.