Memphis Says Goodbye To John Willingham And Don Pelt

Posted on: 11:21 am, May 17, 2013, by

(Memphis) Two Memphis BBQ legends die on the same day. Families are mourning the death of Don Pelts, the founder of Corky`s.

As well as John Willingham, a two-time BBQ Fest grand champion.

They both died Wednesday on the first day of the Memphis in May BBQ Fest.

Some might say he was the best at BBQ but Don Pelt’s family says he was the best at something else.

‘He was not only my father, he was my best friend,’ said Barry Pelts, his son.

‘He was more than just a grandpa,’ said 18-Year-Old Brandon Pelts. ‘He is my best friend.’

They say the founder of Corky’s was all about family.

‘He lived for all of us. Everything he did was for us,’ said Daughter Tricia Woodman. ‘The reason he worked so hard was for us.’

His two children and five grandchildren say they’re going to miss his humor

‘Who is this handsome guy in the mirror?’ said Don Pelt in a home video.

‘He was so funny and crazy,’ said Woodman.

His many employees are going to miss his heart.

‘They loved him. They loved him as much as I do,’ Barry.  ‘He was their pop.’

‘I`m so sorry because I know what he`s going through,’ said Kara Wilbanks, the daughter of John Willingham.

On the other side of town, Wilbanks is also dealing with the loss of her dad.

‘John Willingham is the greatest man ever. That`s my daddy,’ she said.

Willingham also died from heart problems on the same day as pelts.

He also loved BBQ and competed for the last 34 years, winning grand champion twice at Memphis in May.

His tent is still up, and so is his family for competition.

‘We are going to pull this off just like he wants us to,’ said Wilbanks.

The Pelts say their also going to make sure their dad’s legacy lives on and the secret of Corky’s success.

‘It`s a people business,’ said Barry.  ‘Everybody says it`s about the recipes. It`s all about the people.’

Pelt`s funeral is going to be open to the public. I

t`s going to be Thursday at Temple Israel on West Massey Road.

Willingham was turning 81 years old this Sunday and the family says they’re still planning on holding a party for him at his BBQ tent this Saturday. His funeral will be Sunday at 3 p.m. at Christ the King Lutheran Church on Park.