Employees and staff at Archdale McDonald’s released balloons last week to honor Tyler Gray, a friend and employee who died March 15.

ARCHDALE — On Saturday, March 20 Archdale McDonald’s closed temporarily to honor Tyler Gray, a beloved employee who died on March 15 after a traffic incident. Closing the restaurant was unprecedented, but as General Manager Brad Acquilin said, “There simply is no other way to accomplish this, as Tyler was so well liked that no one could be left out.” Tyler had worked 16 of his 30 years at the restaurant.

A somber line of family, friends and coworkers made their way to the back of the property and stood in a circle holding their green balloons. Manager Stephen Lemonds made sure there were plenty to release, even recruiting his mother, Tanya Albright, to help.

Supervisor Laura Johnson opened the ceremony and spoke about Tyler and his incredible work ethic. When Tyler wasn’t accomplishing a myriad of duties at the restaurant, he was hauling “stuff” to make extra money for his family using his much loved pickup truck, she said.

Co-worker Sierra Brown tearfully spoke on behalf of the staff about working with Tyler, and lots of laughs were shared. “The thing about Tyler was that he was a team player, doing everything in this restaurant, from crew to manager, maintenance and making the biscuits.” (His favorite).

Included in the crowd were several coworkers who had moved on or retired, but came back for Tyler. “If anyone has any doubt that hard work and dependability isn’t well respected, this showing of people should dispel that thought.” said Yanceyville McDonald’s manager Jamie Roach, who started all those years ago with Tyler in Archdale. “Tyler has everyone’s respect.”

After a moving balloon release, followed by a favorite country music song, the crowd dispersed. The staff went back to work, as customers waited patiently and respectfully for a workplace that runs like a family. “If you work here at Carolina QSC you are in a big McFamily and that comes in very handy in situations like this.” said Training and Hiring Manager Dianna Cheatham. “Losing Tyler is a huge loss, but we will stick together and continue working hard, and laughing hard, just as he did.”