|Birth: ||Nov. 28, 1944|
|Death: ||Jun. 16, 1996|
Friends Toast "Tiny" One Last Time.
They turned out in massive numbers to say goodbye to a massive man.
First there were 400 people at the biggest funeral in memory at St. Peter Church in Antioch. Then came an estimated 150-car, 35-motorcycle procession to Fatman Inn in Gurnee.
That's where they held the last party Thursday with Richard "Tiny" Sheehan in attendance. The 6-foot-5, 295-pound legendary owner of Fatman Inn died Sunday night of a massive heart attack. He was 51. Until two years ago, he weighed more than 400 pounds.
There were no formal services at the bawdy one-story Fatman Inn, which Sheehan owned for 21 years. But while his dark blue hearse remained parked in the gravel parking lot in front, many made group toasts to him under the hot sun. Others stole quiet moments with head bowed and a hand on the car.
Even on this day of paying respect, a mourner wearing a necktie or a dress was in the vast minority at Fatman Inn. But the standard funeral black was still the color of the day--mostly in leather vests, jeans, suspenders and tank tops.
The crowd spilled out the front and back of the building and grew as the afternoon wore on. Parked cars lined both sides of Route 41 for a quarter-mile. ZZ Top and other rock bands competed with the noise of numerous electric fans whirring inside while outside traffic roared by.
Sheehan's longtime friend, Waukegan attorney Tom Briscoe, delivered a humorous, tear-inducing eulogy at the funeral. Starting in a pinstripe black suit, he told the crowd that Sheehan wouldn't have wanted anyone so formally dressed honoring him.
Briscoe then peeled off his suit coat, dress shirt and tie to reveal a black Fatman Inn T-shirt underneath. The place went up for grabs amid a roar of laughter and clapping.
Sheehan was fondly remembered for his generosity. He was widely known for hosting many fundraisers and giving personal loans, often to people he knew could not repay him.
The procession from the church to the tavern stretched 4 1/2 miles, according to Lt. Steve Towns-end of the Lake County Sheriff's Department.
a 27-year veteran of the force, he said the only bigger funeral motocade he could remember was former Lake County Sheriff Mickey Babcox's in 1988.
And Towns-end had a tale of his own to add to the legend of Sheehan as a big-hearted giant.
"He saved my life 22 years ago. I was beated in an altercation and had my back broken in three places during Russell's centennial celebration," Towns-end said.
"He owned Tiny's Tap at the time and came out and protected me until help arrived.
"It was a privilege and an honor to help in his procession."
Sheehan's wake at Strang Funeral Home in Antioch on Tuesday night was the biggest director Dan Dugenske said he had seen in 37 years in the business.
He said 3,000 was a conservative estimate for the crush of visitors.
A line of mourners wrapped around the parking lot for much of the six-hour visitation period.
According to his brother, Dennis, Sheehan's ashes will be placed near relatives' graves in either a Liberyville or Mundelein cemetery.
He added that the Fatman Inn will remain open for business until the famil can sell it or find someone to operate it.
Joseph Michael Sheehan (1916 - 1979)
Elizabeth Marie Weber Sheehan (1922 - 2013)
Willow Lawn Memorial Park
Created by: Suze
Record added: Jul 20, 2008
Find A Grave Memorial# 28404879
Added by: Anonymous