Florida Arby's owner says 'goodbye' to wife of 51 years with sweet tribute on sign

VERO BEACH, Fla. - The morning after his wife of 51 years died, Tom Lureau wanted to do something to honor her.

So, between 5 and 6 a.m. Tuesday, he went to the restaurant he owns — the Arby's at 1605 U.S. 1 in Vero Beach, Fla., — and changed the sign.

He replaced the deal of the day with this personal message:

"God Bless

Maureen

51 Years

Companion"

Maureen Lureau, 72, died of congestive heart failure at the Indian River Medical Center. She began experiencing problems in the middle of the night, Tom said, and was dead just two hours later.

"My mother was his true love," daughter Lisa Lureau said. "They were together back in high school."

Lisa and her brother, Kevin, run the day-to-day operation of the local Arby's. They were shocked to see the message on the sign on Tuesday morning.

"My father went over there by himself and did that. We had no idea," Lisa said. "That's a message to my mother. It was his way of saying ‘I love you' to her."

Tom says he did it, in part, because he wanted to let friends and acquaintances know about Maureen's passing. Hundreds of cars drive past the Arby's every day.

"She was very active in the community," Tom said.

While members of today's generation would use Facebook or Twitter to spread the word, Tom, 71, did it the old-fashioned way.

Of course, the main reason he went to Arby's before dawn Tuesday was to say something that may have gotten lost during those two frantic hours the day before.

One can only imagine how emotional it was for him to stand underneath the sign and, letter by letter, put together the message.

"That was my way of saying goodbye to her," he said.

Russ Lemmon is a columnist for Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers. This column reflects his opinion. Contact him at 772-978-2205 or russ.lemmon@scripps.com.

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