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December 6, 2011

Last year when I did my 365 day bar crawl, there was only one bar I went to twice. That bar was Mike’s Tavern in my hometown of Peoria, Illinois. Mike’s Tavern is the bar that I remember my Grandpa Seitz going to for as long as I can remember. The original ower was Mike Jacoby, and I remember my Grandpa speaking fondly of Mike. Tony Ward bought the bar back in 1976 and Mike Jacoby was never mentioned by my Grandpa again. My Grandpa was a little fickle and reserved high praise for whoever was pouring the beer and shots at Mike’s Tavern. From 1976 on it was Tony Ward and the high praise from my Grandpa was well deserved. He took good care of my Grandpa as time marched on and watched out for him. I’ve thanked him many times through the years for this.

Last year I was continually asked asked what bar was going to be the last one on the 365 bar crawl.
I had established a rule that I could revisit a bar on that day. From the very beginning, I knew it had to be Mike’s Tavern. I called Tony a few weeks prior and told him and he was excited that Mike’s would be the last stop on the bar crawl. When the day came, there was a sign outside congratulating me and Tony was the first person who’s hand I shook. I probably could’ve gotten more publicity by going to a bar in New York, but I didn’t care, it had to be Mike’s Tavern. It was a great day and Tony set it all up and I’ll be eternally grateful to him for such a great closing day. It couldn’t have been any better and the person to thank for that is Tony Ward.

Yesterday I got an email and it was a link to Tony’s obituary in the Peoria Journal Star.
It seems Tony passed away on Sunday, December 4th. He was 62-years-old. Condolences to Tony’s wife, Donna, his daughter, Shannon and the entire Ward family on their loss, I’m so very sorry.

I don’t know what happens when you die, but I hope somehow Tony and my Grandpa Seitz are drinking a beer together right now.

I’m going to have more than one tonight in Tony’s honor. Cheers to Tony Ward, a great barkeep a wonderful guy and a friend to many in West Peoria and beyond. You’ll truly be missed, Tony. R.I.P.

Further Reading: 365 Bars, Peoria Journal Star and Peoria Bar Review.

To everything,
Turn, turn, turn,
There is a season,
Turn, turn, turn.

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Reader Comments (23)

R.I.P. Tony Ward. Only five years older than I am....Jesus, that's scary.

December 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJaws the Cabbie

Sorry to hear this,,,and Jaws is right,,,it is scary when someone dies at a relatively young age.

December 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAl

Mike's Tavern was one of my favorite "Hidden Charms" pieces written for you & late lamented POP magazine. Sad news. Mike was 2 years younger than me.

December 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMike Foster

I'm really sorry to hear about Tony. The Mike's Tavern posts were some of my favorite 365 posts. I think this was partly because with the NYC bars, sometimes you met up with friends, but usually the bars were a place to meet new people, whereas Mike's seemed like a place where everyone was a regular and was it was more like a neighborhood drop in and find out what people are up to type of place. Not enough of those places left, even in small towns.
I'm off to work, but when I return tonight, I believe I will tip a couple in memory of Tony and guys like him that who leave too soon, taking a way of life with them, one round at a time.

December 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMarty In Montreal

Cheers to Tony. I hope someone keeps the bar going in his honor.

December 6, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkari

RIP Tony. Nice photos. Love the desks alongside the wall.

December 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMelanie

RIP Tony - a breakfast beer seems in order for sure.

December 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBritta

Although I never got to meet you, Mike's is a place full of great memories. Dancing in the back room, those great curtains, and birthday celebrations. A few cans of beer and a cup o nuts became a "dinner" tradition before stopping in to Haddads before going home for the evening. Thanks for the memories.

December 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterM

I'm so sorry to hear, Marty!!! Sounds like he was a great guy!

December 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLindsay

Another icon passed away..so sad :( You can see on the pictures that Tony is the bar and the bar is Tony! R.I.P.

December 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRuben Dutch

Regrets Marty, sorry for you to lose a friend. Hope he gets a good sendoff. Thanks again for your great website and all the efforts you make .... it's much appreciated , dannyboy

December 6, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterdannyboy

So Sorry Marty.
RIP Tony..

December 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGidgie

I'm so sorry to hear this. My condolences. And, best wishes to Tony's friends and family.

December 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGoggla

Really sorry to hear the news Marty. I'll raise a glass to Tony after work. RIP.

December 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSpike

Just enjoy every sandwich, right? And every person you have a sandwich with. R.I.P., Tony.

December 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBiff

Maybe we can sneak off to Mike's like your Granpa used to do and we will have a beer... a beer ever fifteen minutes...I will see you over Christmas....

December 6, 2011 | Unregistered Commentertehennessey

Mike & Tony & Grandpa are having a good night up there today !

December 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGENE

this is a sad post...R.I.P. Tony...

How frighteningly few are the persons whose death would spoil our appetite and make the world seem empty.
Eric Hoffer


December 6, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterraginrr

Rest in Peace Tony may you find your way to God's loving arms again.

December 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterReylan | Labor Posters

My heartfelt and sincere condolences to you, Tony's family and everyone whose lives he touched over the years.
They don't make 'em like that anymore.
Peace Within Tony.

December 6, 2011 | Unregistered Commenter"Boris"

Thanks for the nice comments everyone! Tony was a great guy and I hope to visit Mike's when I'm back in Peoria in a couple weeks and have a beer or three in his memory. To Tony!

December 7, 2011 | Registered CommenterMarty After Dark

Thank you, Marty. I know my dad would be very honored by your tribute. Hope to see you there in a couple weeks!

December 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterShannon

@Shannon: You're more than welcome! So sorry for your loss and hope to see you and your Mom when I'm back in Peoria for the holidays.

December 9, 2011 | Registered CommenterMarty After Dark

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