“Mr. Myrtle Beach” passed away Tuesday.
Raymond Luther “Luke” Goude died of natural causes in his home. He was 64.
Goude took over St. Clements Beach Bar and Grill on 70th Avenue North in 1988. It would have been 30 years old this summer.
The bar was closed on Thursday. A cross had been been placed on a window of the faded pink building and flowers had been laid on the bar.
Whitesox, the black cat with white paws who tends to hang out at the bar, was nowhere to be seen.
The Georgetown County native known by friends as “Mr. Myrtle Beach” had operated his bar by himself over the last several years.
“He loved it more than life,” said Michelle Ice, who became friends with Goude after moving to the beach seven years ago.
“He’s a staple in Myrtle Beach, definitely,” she said. “He dressed eccentrically. You could say ‘Who’s Luke?’ The nylon shorts and midriff shirt and he works at the pink bar on the beach. And everybody would know who exactly you were talking about.”
While Goude was a former surfer, he spent most of his time at his bar. He was often seen outside socializing with his customers.
The tall, blond bar owner was friendly, outgoing and a fast talker with a knack for remembering people, even if it had been years since he’d seen someone.
“He’d remember their names, he’d remember their drinks, he’d remember what they talked about,” said Ice. “He always made people feel comfortable returning to see him in the bar.”
Ice’s drink was Jack and water.
“I’d be walking up and he’d have it sitting on the bar, ready for me,” she said.
His friend Jeri Glenn said she moved to Myrtle Beach from Greenville, South Carolina 29 years ago and a number of people pointed her toward St. Clements for the food.
“A lot of people said ‘You want a good hamburger, go over to Luke’s,’ ” Glenn said. “And so one day, I just showed up over here and he acted like he knew me all my life.”
Goude was a patriot, kind-hearted, and a Christian who always bowed his head before a meal, even if others didn’t, she said.
“I brought my mom and dad here one year,” Glenn said. “And Luke even cooked them a steak and everything. He just treated them like they were the Queen of England or something.”
He “never met a stranger,” and could get to know someone just by standing in the same line as them, said his sister, Gwen Hartgrove, during a family gathering at Goude’s house Thursday.
Goude played basketball in high school and went to Columbia Commercial Junior College on a basketball scholarship. He graduated with a degree in business, his sister said.
After college, Goude spent most of his life in the service industry, starting as a bouncer in a Columbia-area bar, she said. He took ownership of St. Clements in his 30s.
His friend, Robert Powell, said Goude would always greet people with his hands out and palms facing up “like he was accepting you.”
“Wherever he went, he brought the good times with him,” Powell said.
“It was his world, we were just living in it.”
Goude is survived by his sisters, Gwen Hartgrove and Brenda Rich, his brother Reuben Goude and his parents Bethel and Miriam Goude.
His funeral is 2 p.m. Saturday at the Mt. Zion Baptist Church at 5542 Carvers Bay Rd. in Hemingway, South Carolina.