PORT NECHES - Billy Joe's Bar-B-Q in Port Neches lost one its most beloved ingredients earlier this week and many in the community are left with the salty taste of tears as they mourn the loss.
Cleo Baltimore, who passed away at Monday, Sept. 11 due to complications from a blood clot, was a fixture at the little BBQ restaurant on the corner of Magnolia Avenue and 4th Street in Port Neches.
The beloved cook, who began working at Billy Joe's in 1973, made a name for himself as the "waving man" with his daily ritual of waving at passersby from a chair in front of the restaurant every morning.
Baltimore went above and beyond to make people smile according to Garry Richards, who owns the mom and pop restaurant with his wife.
"He didn't have to be here until 7 a.m. but he would get here at 5 a.m. so he could finish his work back by the pit to be out here at 7 a.m. when the work traffic would be coming by," Richards said. "He did it for 45 years."
"Every morning when I would come in, I would say good morning Cleo and he would say good morning back," co-worker Donna Hill said, her voice cracking with emotion.
Baltimore was described as a simple man with a love for people and an even bigger love for Christ according to Hill.
"He loved spending time with his family, going to church. That was his major thing church," she said.
His empty chair still sits outside at Billy Joe's Bar-B-Q and the owners and employees are asking anyone who passes to honk in Baltimore's memory.
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