Remembering 'The Chocolate Man'

By Matt Porter

December 16, 2013 Updated Dec 16, 2013 at 8:31 PM EDT

Sayre, PA (WBNG Binghamton) Hal Lambert was a sweet fixture in Sayre, Pa.. The 71-year-old owned Lambert's Chocolatier, which first started as a curbside hot dog stand more than 30 years ago.

Marjorie Ross remembers visiting the stand.

"You'd get the hotdog, and on top of the hot dog you'd get a scoop of cole slaw or potato salad," Ross said. "And many, many fond memories sitting in these booths eating those hotdogs."

Lambert died on Friday of an apparent heart attack according to friends who were working the chocolate store.

Ross runs the Sayre Theater behind Lambert's shop. She said "the chocolate man," as Lambert was affectionately called, loved bringing smiles to all his customers.

"He was doing what he loved, and even at the end, he was doing what he loved to do," Ross said. "And how many of us really get that chance in life to just do what you love."

Sayre resident Pat Eichorn said Lambert loved chocolate, but may have loved his customers more.

"Hal lit up the room. He knew everybody that came in here," Eichorn said. "He always spent time with the customer."

Neighboring business owner Debra MacNamara said you couldn't live in Sayre without knowing Lambert.

She likened him as the unelected leader of Sayre.

"I'm going to call him a mover and a shaker," MacNamara said. "Because if something needed to be done, Hal was not on board just to talk about it, if he was on board, he was doing it."

As owner of the Print and Paper Place, MacNamara said she always remembers Lambert busy.

She saw him carrying dozens of boxes to ship just days before he died.

"He always came in with a smile," she said. "He always had a little story to tell you."

Lambert was enormously generous donating chocolate to help all sorts of causes.

His most passionate cause was with the Humane Society and greyhound rescues.

Hal Lambert and his wife Janet have been taking in greyhounds to rehabilitate them for life in a home instead of a race track.

In Lambert's shop, you can find greyhound shaped candy where a portion of the profits go to help greyhound rescues.

For friends like Majorie Ross, Hal Lambert will never die.

"Somebody like Hal doesn't leave your life," Ross said. "Perhaps physically, but never spiritually."

Because Lambert himself knew his job was more than selling candy when he spoke to Action News last year.

"People share their personal stories, what's going on in their life, good things, sad things, all sorts of things," Hal Lambert said in December 2012. "It's interesting, like having a whole bunch of friends."

A funeral for Hal Lambert will be held at Saint James Church in Waverly at 10 a.m. on Tuesday.

Hal Lambert was 71.

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