DeFuniak Springs mourns the loss of a beloved local

DEFUNIAK SPRINGS, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - A tragic accident has left one local community in mourning after a beloved member unexpectedly died this week while working in the attic of his restaurant.

"Perry was generous and love," said longtime friend and cafe regular, Cindy Permenter.

From serving our country to serving the folks of DeFuniak Springs, Perry Deneau was more than just the man who ran the Corner Cafe.

He was a friend to just about everyone in the small community.

"I think that anybody that had ever gone to the restaurant to eat and actually talked to Perry, they took away a little piece of Perry with them," said Permenter.

"One thing I can tell you about Perry is that the more you unravel the onion peel, the deeper you realize this guy's quality is," said DeFuniak Springs Mayor Bob Campbell.

Known for his selflessness, folks say Deneau would do kind things for anyone and never ask for anything in return.

"He is a great, great friend to me," said Aubrey "Frank" Muscare, an employee of Deneau's. "He has done me many, many favors. I appreciate him, I respect him for who he was. In my eyes, he was [an] awesome, awesome, awesome boss. And I think that for anyone else to know that, that right there was a great man."

"I hear story after story of how hospitable he was and generous and [how he] went out of his way to help people in need and things of that nature. Very personal," said Mayor Campbell.

But Tuesday, while working on some renovations, Deneau unexpectedly died. Since then the restaurant has sat quiet and empty.

Police believe it was an electrical accident.

"We're all in shock, heartbroken, disbelief," said Permenter. "You sit and look, it's time to go to lunch, "I wonder what the corner is serving today,' and then all of a sudden you're not ready to eat anymore. Just empty."

Many say what drew them to the Corner Cafe more than a meal was the conversation and camaraderie they would exchange with Deneau every day.

"When you walked in there you just felt like you were walking into the house and you were just comfortable and that's how he made you feel," Permenter explained.

"He was the restaurant. People would come to the restaurant just to eat and see Perry. I mean, it was awesome. I enjoyed working with the man. He was a great, great man," Muscare reflected.

And to keep his memory living on, his friends say:

"This world would be such a wonderful place to be if everybody would take and do one little act of kindness in Perry's memory just to keep this town happy and alive and know that Perry is with us in spirit," Permenter expressed. "That would be such a testimony to the life he lived and the God that he served. I really believe that."

"People like him is what makes this community such a beautiful, loving town and I love to have hundreds like him because he was a real blessing to the community," said Mayor Campbell.

Deneau's Celebration of Life Services will be held at 12:00 p.m., Saturday, August 12th at Clary-Glenn Funeral Home Chapel.

Reverends Ed Jenkins and David Ellis will officiate, with military honors by the United States Air Force.