A Life Remembered | Generous, overalled chef Lorin Schluter 'was a treasure'

A Life Remembered | Generous, overalled chef Lorin Schluter 'was a treasure'

FLATVILLE — What Gifford's village president will remember most about Lorin Schluter — the happy-go-lucky cook who could make fried chicken like nobody's business — is his generosity in times of need.

"Lorin was great in helping people out, providing food and stuff to people who needed it most," Derald Ackerman said. "He was a treasure."

An autopsy is scheduled for today for Mr. Schluter, 59, of Armstrong, who died Saturday in a two-vehicle crash at a rural intersection in eastern Champaign County.

On Sunday, Ackerman couldn't recall a time that he saw Mr. Schluter wear anything but his famous bib overalls, which he had on anytime he made his famous fried chicken.

Best known as the operator of Bibb's Country Restaurant on Main Street in downtown Gifford, he was in business in November 2013, when a devastating tornado ripped through town, leveling many homes in the community.

As the men and women of Gifford picked up the pieces and construction crews worked to put the village back together, many of them would flock to Bibb's at lunchtime to eat Mr. Schluter's crispy specialty.

Mr. Schluter managed to keep residents and workers fed by powering up a generator and boiling water.

"He was very active in the days and weeks following the tornado," recalled Gifford Fire Chief Rich McFadden. "I remember several occasions in which he took food up to the staff at the nursing home to recognize their efforts.

"And when volunteers came from out of town to help out, Lorin would often give them their meals for no charge. He was pretty friendly and outgoing."

One year after the twister hit, Mr. Schluter hosted what he called an appreciation meal for the volunteers who'd helped out, serving them free fried chicken and fixings.

"We've got a good feeling for all the folks who helped out here after the tornado, and we wanted to show our appreciation," Mr. Schluter said at the time.

After the restaurant closed in 2015, Mr. Schluter went to work at Goldy's Bar and Grill in Champaign, then launched a new Bibb's Country Restaurant, inside the Wyndham Garden hotel on Urbana's north side.

It was his third Bibb's — before coming to Gifford, Mr. Schluter opened the original Bibb's Country Restaurant in Potomac in 2011.

His death left friends and restaurant patrons shocked and saddened.

According to police reports, a driver later identified as Mr. Schluter was at the wheel of a Pontiac Grand Prix headed west on County Road 2500 N near Penfield at about 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

Champaign County Sheriff's Sgt. Andrew Good said Mr. Schluter apparently ran a stop sign and collided with a northbound Dodge Ram pickup truck at the intersection of 2500 N and 2500 E., about four miles east of Flatville.

Mr. Schluter's vehicle was struck on the driver's side when he entered the intersection, according to the coroner's report.

Both vehicles ended up in a corn field, Good said.

A man in the truck and his adult grandson received non-life-threatening injuries, officials said. Good said the pickup driver did not have a stop sign.

Champaign County Coroner Duane Northrup said an inquest may be held at a later date. The accident remains under investigation by the sheriff and the coroner.

 

Staff writer Mary Schenk contributed to this report.

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