COLUMBIA – Employees of Lucy's Corner Cafe said Tracy Dexter was loved by many.
"If the mayor died tomorrow, there would be more people at Tracy's wake," Lucy's cook Mark Canestraight said.
Mr. Dexter, 45, died early Sunday morning after a traffic accident on Route WW at the North Fork of Grindstone Creek.
"It's hard to believe," Lucy's general manager Cody Rice said, explaining that it was not so surprising that Mr. Dexter was in an accident but that he didn't survive this one.
"He was a bit reckless, I guess you might say," Rice said. "But he meant well. He had a good heart."
Mr. Dexter owned Ron's Country Boy, which was previously owned by his father. Ron's later became Lucy's. Although he sold the restaurant, he continued to work there occasionally and could frequently be found there.
Canestraight said that people have been coming to Columbia from as far away as South Dakota to celebrate Mr. Dexter's life.
"He never met a stranger," Mr. Dexter's first wife, Barb Dexter, said.
Mr. Dexter was working as a landscaper and enjoyed spending time at Cooper's Landing. He previously had a passion for motorcycles but in recent years had spent more time with boats. He also was passionate about river clean-ups.
Mr. Dexter spent time in the Army and had been stationed in Bamberg, Germany, for two years in the 1980s. Rice said Mr. Dexter called that one of the best times of his life.
Many who knew Mr. Dexter have been posting memories and condolences on his Facebook page. A friend, Beatriz Wallace, is asking for pictures to include in a memorial video. They can be sent to her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Rice said it is possible Lucy's will be making a tribute T-shirt. Those interested can contact the restaurant for more information.
"He is a man no one will ever forget," Lucy's waitress Lisa Berry said.
Mr. Dexter is survived by his wife, Diana Dexter; children Kelsey Dexter, 23, Corey Dexter, 20, Trent Tucker, 20, and Ayrion Dexter, 17; and grandchildren Liam Irvin, 5, Lori Irvin, 3, and Lillianne Grace Dexter, 2.
"He was a wonderful father," Barb Dexter said. She added that the family is thankful for the outpouring of support it has received.
A celebration of Mr. Dexter's life is planned for the spring. The family also asks that people refrain from sending flowers and instead make contributions to either Cooper's Landing or to the Missouri River Relief Fund.