The former owner of Tiny's Lounge on Longboat Key died Nov. 19 at the age of 81.
Ray LaFlamme landed his first job when he was 15.
He lied about his age back then because as his wife, Joan LaFlamme said, he was ambitious and wanted to work.
Ray LaFlamme worked from then until his death Nov. 19, at age 81.
“He couldn’t retire,” Gary LaFlamme said of his father. “He tried like three times, and he couldn’t do it. He liked being around people, and he liked interacting with people. That’s what kept him going, his interactions with people.”
LaFlamme was always a hard worker. In Connecticut, he owned three movie theaters and more than 30 video-rental stores. He worked at the same printing company for 22 years, where he worked his way up to vice president.
But locally, LaFlamme is most known for his ownership of Tiny’s Lounge and Longboat Key Package and Video from 1989 to 2003.
“It was a great place to go,” Joan LaFlamme said. “We had people of all ranks, from lawn service people to the chief of police. We had lawyers and judges. We had just all kinds of people … Everybody knew everybody, and it was a lot of fun.”
Every Friday at Tiny’s, LaFlamme would host happy hour and make sure there was food for all his customers. Whether it was lasagna, hot dogs, chili or “Tiny’s Pepper Night” when everyone brought in a hot pepper dish, people gathered at the lounge that became a hub for locals.
Randal LaFlamme said those who visited Tiny’s weren’t just his father’s customers but his friends, too. When he was done at the liquor store, he made sure to stop by the lounge and visit.
Much like his work ethic, his love of family never wavered.
When the family lived in Connecticut, LaFlamme would take them to a lake house for the summer where he would invite his siblings and their children to come, too.
The family would have a large picnic, with extra bushels of corn for LaFlamme’s sisters, who Lori LaFlamme Cooper said could each eat a dozen, and spend time water skiing.
As his kids got older, the family stopped exchanging Christmas gifts because LaFlamme only wanted one thing.
When his family was gathered around the dinner table for the holiday, he’d get emotional and explain that was his Christmas gift. All he wanted was for his family to be together.
No matter where his ambitions took him, LaFlamme made sure he was a man people could go to. For the past seven years, LaFlamme has worked and managed a branch of Publix Liquors.
While he was in the hospital last week, a young woman from the Publix where he worked visited him and told his family he was like the grandfather she never had.
“...When you needed anything or were having a tough time, he was the guy you could go to,” Randal LaFlamme said.
That supportive trait is one he left with his children, too.
“He taught us to be honest and to work hard, to achieve our goals and to be sure to love one another,” Lori LaFlamme Cooper said.
LaFlamme is survived by his wife, Joan; children, Randal and Gary LaFlamme and Lori LaFlamme Cooper; and six grandchildren. There are no services planned at the time.
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