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Florence’s legacy continues with the ‘Earl Burger’

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By Rebecca Roscoe

The family of the late Samuel “Earl” Florence can continue the memory of their loved one in a unique way – by going to the Hodgenville McDonalds and ordering an “Earl Burger.”

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Janice Graham of Harrodsburg, Earl’s daughter, said her father passed away April 4 due to cancer. She is pleased his memory lives on at one of his regular weekly stops.

Earl and his wife Alta were regular customers at the restaurant. They enjoyed ordering “Earl Burgers” – a McDouble, loaded with quarter onions, shredded lettuce, with a side packet of hot mustard.

The name caught on with staff and other customers.

“A lot of people order it,” Alta said. “He said that if they ever put it on the menu he’d want some money out of it.”

The couple sometimes sat for hours, enjoying their food and the company of others.

“He was a good guy. He was always in here a lot. Everyone knew him and knew what the Earl Burger was,” said J.R. Donahue, general manager of McDonalds.

Erin Whittington, a department manager at the McDonald’s, said, “Everyone misses him and loved him. Earl and Alta were a regular part of our atmosphere….”

His sense of humor was always welcome, said Whittington.

“He’d always have the managers laughing,” said Alta. “He brought some life into the place. Every manager they had would always come out and talk to him. When they first got Wi-Fi he said he wanted the deluxe Wi-Fi, like you’d order a deluxe burger.”

Earl also was well known at the LaRue County Senior Center where he played music and danced.

His friend, Charles Riggs, met Earl in 1959 while working at Armor Creameries. They later enjoyed playing music together.

“He was friendly to anyone, loved to talk and tell stories about coon hunting. He always had a story to tell about coon hunting. He would often forget that he had told someone one of his stories, and you would always have to be prepared to hear the same story again,” said Riggs.

Earl was a left-handed guitar player who learned to play at age 45.

“He never missed a Saturday. He was always there to sing and he loved to dance. That was his life – dancing, singing, talking to people and living life … he was amazing. He just loved life. One of the greatest things about him was that he loved his Jesus and he loved people,” Riggs said.