Beloved chef Robert Price was also a dedicated and kind father, husband and friend to all who knew him.
When he died suddenly at 42 in August, his wife of nearly 13 years, Shenetta Price, 34, of Tyler, said it was a tragic moment for her and their family.
He was a chef and dietary manager at the Center at Grande rehabilitation facility in Tyler until the day he died of Stage 4 brain cancer. Shenetta Price said he received the diagnosis on Aug. 1 and died Aug. 10.
“He was very easygoing and you could never step on his toes,” she said.
In honor of his memory and to help his wife and kids, the center organized “Ghouls and Gourds on Grande” Tuesday to raise money with raffles, food and donations along with several family-friendly activities.
“It’s almost like a blessing to see this in his honor,” Shenetta Price said. “I wish we could bring more awareness to brain cancer in general. Symptoms can go unseen. We never saw that coming.”
A native of New Orleans, Price moved to Tyler, where he met his wife, 16 years ago. They have three children together: daughters Rachelle, 11, and Shanell, 4, and son Jordan, 7.
He learned to cook at age 12 in the kitchen with his mother. He attended the Culinary Institute of New Orleans, according to an employee biography Price wrote.
“The excitement and joy I get from being in the kitchen cooking and making folks happy, through preparing and serving good food to them, is what pushes me and gives me the drive to do what I enjoy doing every day,” Price wrote.
Steve Hesley, Center at Grande executive director, said Price was one of the original employees at the facility when it opened two years ago.
“From the first resident to the last day he was here, he was well loved and is extremely missed,” Hesley said. “This is a dedication to him and to help his family. What I remember is just his compassion and he had a sweet heart, just a kind heart.”
Cathleen Spurlock, Center at Grande housekeeping supervisor, knew him for 10 years since they met at the Waterton Plaza Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. She recalled him always being a chef.
“Robert was dedicated to his staff. He believed in making sure the residents were well taken care of,” Spurlock said. “If you didn’t like Robert to start, he’d cook for you and you’d like him for sure.”
They became family after working together over the years, she said.
“When Robert passed, it was like losing a true family member, a brother and friend,” Spurlock said.
She remembers Price as an amazing person, father and husband, who loved cooking and the New Orleans Saints football team.
Shenetta said he also loved gardening with his kids.
“He was a loving and caring teacher. If he grew it, we ate it,” she said.