SAFETY HARBOR — After long nights working at the Italian restaurant she owned, Lori Mann Pinard used to go to the local Holiday Inn to unwind.
She didn't drink, just sipped hot tea at the bar and hummed to the jazz music. She loved the sounds of big band, but before her divorce, her musical prowess stopped short at church choirs.
Then one night at a Miami club where Doris Day got her start, Mrs. Pinard got up and sang, revealing a smooth blues alto. People raved.
She was in her 40s then, just beginning to blossom.
"After having six children, she was always PTA, Brownies, Boy Scouts," said her daughter Lisa Johni. "She just kind of had this whole new life."
She took voice lessons and sat in on jam sessions. She listened to Tony Bennett, Vic Damone, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughn.
The more she sang, the more her schedule filled. She booked shows at restaurants, clubs and parties, performing under the name "Lori Mann." She wore flashy costumes on stage — boas, hats, costume cigarette holders.
She never rehearsed.
"I don't sing at home," she told the St. Petersburg Times in 2007. "I don't sing in the shower. I only sing in front of an audience. I'm an alto, and my voice is still clear. The only way I've abused my voice over the years is I've had six children and a restaurant."
Offstage, she was calm and casual. She didn't primp much but never left home without eyebrow pencil and a little lipstick.
She moved to Madeira Beach in the 1980s as a single woman before eventually settling in Safety Harbor with her husband, Mike Pinard.
Mrs. Pinard was exceedingly cheerful; her kids called her "Mary Sunshine."
In her day job selling advertisements for a legal review, she earned a reputation — when she visited a client, she came bearing homemade bread.
"She carried it in her car," said Johni, 41. "Pumpkin bread, banana nut bread, zucchini bread. That was her calling card."
In 2005, she had a mammogram, and doctors found a spot. She had a mastectomy, and the cancer didn't spread. She was home free, she thought.
In 2006, a stomach ache turned out to be pancreatic cancer. Her husband of 20 years, who had lost his previous wife to lung cancer, cared for her.
She told the Times, "My objective is living. … Often we dwell on our own situations. I can't change the fact I have cancer, but attitude is big."
The cancer, she said, was a gift. It caused her to patch up shaky relationships from her past and reach out to old friends. It gave her perspective.
"She had a great life," said her daughter. "She could accept it."
Mrs. Pinard died July 25. She was 78.
Stephanie Hayes can be reached at [email protected]times.com or (727) 893-8857.