MEMPHIS, Tenn. — When a dedicated chef becomes too sick to work, a co-worker steps in to help.

Justine Bowser watches the head chef at Piccadilly on Poplar Avenue come in to work, day after day, when he can barely stand. Robert Lee is under a doctor’s care but that couldn’t keep him away.

“He’s been here, like, for 45 years, and just all of a sudden, he took sick, and he’s been struggling a little bit to pay his bills. He doesn’t want to take off because this is all he knows,” Bowser said.

Bowser contacted WREG’s Pass It On to see if we can help be part of his healing process.

“Help him pay his bills so he can sit at home and stop coming up here because he can’t do it y’all, but he keeps coming,” she said.

We gave $1,000 to Bowser and headed inside the restaurant, where Lee was waiting with his wife. He was told he needed to fill out paperwork for the company. Instead, he got a surprise announcement from Bowser.

“I am passing it onto you from News Channel 3,” she said. “We know you can’t do what you used to, but don’t worry about it.”

“We know you can’t do what you used to, but don’t worry about it,” she said.

The restaurant erupted in applause, hugs and even a few tears of joy.

“It’s real good. Pass it On because I really need it. I’m in bad times now. Can’t work right now. Don’t know. it’s not been so good for me and everything. I appreciate everybody doing for,” Lee said.

For years, hungry restaurant guests depended on hot meals cooked and prepped by Lee. His dedication did not go unnoticed.

“He never missed a day of work until he got sick. Other than that, he just loves coming to work. He just love Piccadilly,” said Lee’s wife.

The 64-year-old chef can now focus his attention on physical therapy and getting well.

“It’s from his back now. It’s just going down his legs to his feet. So, yes ma’am, it’s neuropathy,” said his wife.

There is no doubt that Lee will be missed while he’s away.