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A Friend at the Food Mart

Legacy.com / Nick Ehrhardt

A Friend at the Food Mart

Bennett Pinckney (TBO.com)Customers at Max Food Mart in Tampa, Florida, knew Benny Pinckney, whose wheelchair faced them as they checked out, even if they didn't know his name, according to the obituary Andrew Meacham wrote for the St. Petersburg Times.

Pinckney, who had cerebral palsy that affected his speech and mobility, visited the neighborhood convenience store nearly every morning from his teens. He used a wheeled walker to get there beginning in 1966.

The store gave him chocolate-covered doughnuts and a fountain Coke, then helped him consume the snacks, since Mr. Pinckney needed help eating, Meacham wrote.

In return, he watched for shoplifters, raising his hand when he saw someone attempt to steal something.

"He could not talk but he gave us his eyes," said Max D'Souza, 48, who owned the store with his brother, George.

His walker — and, later, his wheelchair — became fixtures at the store, Meacham wrote. . . Customers got to know him, even if they could not understand his speech.

Following Pinckney’s death Nov. 14 at age 78, friends placed his wheelchair in front of Max Food Mart, along with photos of Mr. Pinckney and a fall-themed wreath, Meacham wrote.

More than 200 people attended his church funeral, including D’Souza, who left a box of chocolate-covered doughnuts by photos of Pinckney on the church's altar.

Numerous friends left comments on the online guest book that accompanies Pinckney’s obituary.

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This post was contributed by Alana Baranick, a freelance obituary writer. She was the director of the Society of Professional Obituary Writers and chief author of Life on the Death Beat: A Handbook for Obituary Writers before she passed away in 2015.