Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Life of Beloved St. Charles Restaurant Owner Celebrated with New Orleans-Style Parade

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Life of Beloved St. Charles Restaurant Owner Celebrated with New Orleans-Style Parade

Article excerpt

After her mom's breast cancer came back with a vengeance, Maggie Crane remembers telling her that she was going to throw her a New Orleans second-line parade at her funeral.

"Now that would be a fun way to start a party!" her mom laughed.

On Sunday, hundreds waving parasols, red carnations and Mardi Gras beads poured out of St. Peter Catholic Church in St. Rhonda Crane Charles, where the funeral was held for Rhonda Kay Weber Crane, 63.

They followed the music of the lively Funky Butt Brass Band to Magpie's on historic Main Street, where Rhonda Crane operated restaurants over the past 35 years and shared her love for others through good food, good music and good wine.

"She was a pillar of Main Street, to be certain," said Maggie Crane, 37, of St. Louis.

Magpie's was Rhonda Crane's first and last restaurant, making her the longest single owner of a business on the cobblestone street full of restaurants, bars and shops, according to a proclamation awarded to her by the city of St. Charles.

Over the years, Crane also opened The Cats' Pajamas gift shop, Magpie's Bakery & Creamery, and River Star Cafe, where Chuck Berry once played on the piano.

Second-line parades are descendants of New Orleans' jazz funerals but continue today as moving block parties, led by a brass band and open to anyone who wants to join in with dancing and singing.

Crane loved the cuisine and culture of New Orleans. She and her friends took annual trips to the city's jazz and French Quarter festivals, her daughter said. She hosted raucous Mardi Gras parties with her partner, Mike Aubuchon, complete with costumes, gumbo, jambalaya and corn bread muffins.

Crane chose to open a restaurant on Main Street because she loved the quaintness, said her daughter. "She knew that there were very few 'Main Street Americas' left, and she wanted to be a part of it."

She found a small basement space for sale that was move-in ready with 10 tables, chairs and restaurant equipment. …

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