A Funeral at Charley’s Bar


Charley's X 313

I recently attended one of the most unusual, and most inspiriting, funerals I’ve ever been to. This memorial service was for my wife’s friend Jacqueline, called “Bootsie” by all who knew her. According to Bootsie’s instructions before she died, the service was held at Charley’s Bar & Club rather than in a church or funeral home.

Over 400 people crammed into Charley’s. It was standing room only, with an overflow of some people smoking on the sidewalk outside. Young people. Old people. Wealthy people and seemingly down-and-out people. Business people and bikers.

Bootsie clearly had touched lots of people during her lifetime. She was described as being a straight shooter with a heart of gold, willing to give you the shirt off her back if you needed it. Her loved ones fondly portrayed her as a cross between the cooking of Paula Dean, the quick wit of Roseanne Barr, and the sassiness of Madea. She loved handing out advice and pearls of wisdom, often to complete strangers she met in the nightclubs where her husband, “Buddy Love,” served as a DJ.

Bootsie 312

Bootsie loved people & loved life

I’ll admit, I wasn’t entirely comfortable at Charley’s. I don’t generally visit bars, and it was a whole different group of people than I usually hang out with.

But I couldn’t help but ask myself, “Wouldn’t Jesus prefer a down-to-earth memorial service at Charley’s Bar than a phony, pretentious service in some stained-glassed church or sterile funeral home?” After all, He was “the friend of sinners,” and it was mostly the religious folks that He had problems with.

I’m not sure I will schedule my memorial service at Charley’s. But I want to be a lot more thoughtful about whether I’m spending time with the kind of people Jesus would be spending time with.

Thank you, Bootsie, for making me uncomfortable, and for inspiring me to be more like Jesus.


If you enjoyed this article, get free email updates!

6 thoughts on “A Funeral at Charley’s Bar

  1. Jim,
    Thanks for being real world. There are far too many times when we think we cannot play the ball where it lays.
    Love you, Buddy!

  2. The StepDD of a Pastor friend wanted his funeral at HSI favorite saloon. When he was introduced as “Pastor Rich” most patrons were confused about what that meant. He was Abe to gently share the love and truth of God and felt great about the service. It is a problem when we separate all Christian activities from real life. No wonder we seem so strange.

  3. Kinda reminds me of Jesus comment in John 13:35 “By this shall all men know you are my disciples if you have love for one another.” Or as someone said, “There is more love and fellowship at the corner bar than in a lot of churches.”

  4. Solid materials here on jimbuchan.com, dude. I’m glad you’ve had the opportunity to collect
    all this info on this page, and I’m loving the way you present it. You’ve taken
    the effort to make it simultaneously entertaining and intelligent.
    I think I can gather a lot from you. This is really a superb web site.

Leave a Reply to Cheryl Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.