- Published on Tuesday, 05 August 2014 11:35
- Written by Brian Day
On August 4th, 2014 downtown Cape Girardeau lost a dear friend. Troy Dale Pruett passed away at St. Francis Medical Center in Cape Girardeau, MO. Dale was 66 years of age.
Born and raised in Poplar Bluff Dale moved to Cape Girardeau in 1974. Upon arrival he was hired at Port Cape Girardeau by his longtime friend David Knight. He remained a fixture at Port Cape until his passing.
Dennis “Doc” Cain purchased Port Cape in 1988. Dale stayed with the restaurant when it transitioned and after 20 plus years together, Doc and Dale became far more than employer and employee. They became family.
In Dale’s time in downtown Cape Girardeau, he became something more than a bartender, caterer, or restaurant manager. He became an icon. If downtown is a small pond, Dale was certainly its biggest fish. He was even christened the “Mayor of Water Street.”
Generations of college students knew and loved Dale. He was there with them as they fought through college and was always willing to celebrate their successes and console them during their difficult times. The “regulars” at Port Cape didn’t think of Dale as a friend. He was quite simply a part of their family. He was such a fixture at times it seemed every person that entered Port Cape would walk up to Dale and either shake his hand or hug his neck. He loved that affection, more than most people will ever realize.
Whether it was his trademark long hair, unique sense of humor and wit, uncanny storytelling ability, or just his all-hearing ear – people loved Dale. Most people can claim to have an influence on a handful of people in their lives. Dale impacted countless people, and did so on a daily basis. He took pleasure from it, but also knew it was a responsibility. It meant he always had to be at his best, a challenge he accepted.
It would be remiss to write about Dale without mention of all of his wonderful (sometimes colorful) stories. Most of them, of course, can’t be told here. He could spin a yarn better than anyone. Even if someone had heard the story before, they’d listen again all the while on the edge of their seat. People would bring in their friends and say to Dale “Hey tell him that story you told the other night.” Most wouldn’t dare to try and tell a Dale story. It was far better to bring them to Port Cape so they could hear it directly from the horse’s mouth. There wasn’t a topic out there Dale couldn’t wax poetic about. He knew a little bit about everything. The topics that were his passion he could go on and on about for hours. Yes, to know Dale, was to have heard one of his rants. They were amazing and always done with his tongue firmly in cheek - whether anyone picked up on it or not.
On February 29th 2012, Port Cape hosted Dale’s Sweet 16 birthday party. He was actually 64 years old that day; Dale was born on Leap Day. So the actual day of his birth only occurred every fourth year making him, you guessed it, “Sweet 16.” The turnout for that event was staggering. It seemed all of Cape Girardeau was crammed into Port Cape, all there for Dale. The show of love and respect was overwhelming. Of course, Dale took it all in stride as though it were just another Wednesday on the river.
Dale collected “stuff.” He had at least one of everything. No matter how random an item may be, somewhere, he had one tucked away. He moved into a large downtown building a few years ago. People often joked with him he only did so because it afforded him more room for his “stuff.” It is important to note, for those who didn’t know Dale, that he wasn’t greedy with his possessions. He collected so that he was able to loan out or give his friends anything they needed if he had it…and he usually did.
Dale’s truest passions were people, and downtown Cape Girardeau. As the “Mayor of Water Street,” a title he carried with pride, he was downtown’s best ambassador. No matter where he was, his heart and mind was always downtown on the river. It was his home, and being the generous man he was, all he wanted to do was share that home with everyone he knew. In speaking with Doc Cain after Dale’s passing, it was clear that Dale continued thinking of his beloved home until his last moments. One if his final requests was for anyone wishing to remember him do so with a memorial donation to the Old Town Cape Scholarship Garden. That was typical Dale Pruett, thinking of others before himself.
On a personal note, I’m fortunate to say I was Dale’s friend. I moved to Cape Girardeau without knowing many people in the area. I quickly found a friend in Dale. I was privileged to work beside him at Port Cape Girardeau for over five years. During that time we had so many incredible moments together. It warms my heart to know that I was a character in at least a few of his magical stories. In my life I’ve had many mentors…but Dale taught me so many invaluable lessons by just being… himself.
In truth, Dale was a mentor to so many. He showed us how to live without regret and how to live everyday to the fullest. Most of all, Dale showed us how to be comfortable in our own skin. He, by example, showed us we’re all different, and it’s okay. Dale was, unapologetically, Dale and those of us who knew and loved him are thankful he was.
He was born in Poplar Bluff to parents Troy and Pearl Pruett. He leaves behind brothers Larry Pruett of Jacksonville, Florida and Jerry Pruett of Bloomfield, Connecticut, as well as several nieces and nephews and countless friends.
Dale graduated from Poplar Bluff High School and attended Memphis State University where he majored in Economics. He spent many years working for his family’s business, Pruett’s Barbecue, in Poplar Bluff. Read the rest of his obituary here.
His visitation will be from 4 to 8pm Tuesday, Aug. 5th and the funeral service will be at 2pm Wednesday, Aug. 6th both held at Ford & Sons Funeral Home on Mount Auburn. A wake will be held following the funeral at Port Cape Girardeau.
May he rest in peace!