Steve Vormehr wore a sky-blue tuxedo to his first piano lesson with Beth Sakamura's husband.
"He did it to make fun of himself as a budding Liberace," Sakamura said Friday.
Sakamura and others close to Vormehr say it's those kinds of antics that made him such a fun-loving father, husband and friend.
Vormehr, 53, died Thursday following a sudden illness.
He owned Mid America Concessions, which handles concessions for athletic and civic events at Kansas University and Lawrence, and he had recently begun working as a vendor at Kansas Speedway. His wife, Vicki, is part owner of Vormehr & Youngquist Gallery, 914 Mass.
Just a few weeks ago, Becky Price and her husband had dinner at the Vormehrs' house with a group of couples that gets together every few months. Several people in the group are going through job changes, Price said, and Vormehr wanted to meet again next month to find out what was new in his friends' lives.
"He's always so interested in what everybody does," Price said. "He was so full of life and such a generous and very sincere man."
Vormehr's generosity poured over into all aspects of his life, said Price, former director of Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Douglas County.
Vormehr donated many hours and dollars to that organization, where he was a former president of the board.
As owner of Becerros Mexican Restaurant from 1980 to 1990, Vormehr treated his staff like family.
"There were often younger kids who came in to be bus people or cooks," said Sakamura, who worked at Becerros during college. "He was always certain that he wasn't just an employer. He took them under his wing, made sure they were going to school, made sure they had some sort of support system. If they didn't, he provided it.
"He was everybody's dad and everybody's friend at the same time."
Vormehr's twin daughters are seniors at Free State High School, where they both play volleyball and are Homecoming queen candidates, said Deanell Tacha, long-time family friend and chief judge of the Tenth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.
"They've been outstanding athletes all their lives," Tacha said. "Steve took such pride in them. One of the girls said they figured he's still bragging on them."
Free State's volleyball team was supposed to play in a tournament today at Topeka Seaman but pulled out when news came of Vormehr's death.