‘Moe’ Clancy, dead at 56, ran North Side bar, clashed with ‘The Simpsons’ studio
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When Maureen “Moe” Clancy opened Moe’s Tavern eight years ago, she had it painted with characters from “The Simpsons” in homage to the TV cartoon’s saloon where bartender Moe gets pranked and Springfielders get tanked.
Within months, she got a letter from Fox studios, warning Moe’s to cease and desist using the cartoons.
Ms. Clancy went along — to a point: She slightly altered the hair on the Simpsons’ characters. And she renamed her version of the Flaming Moe cocktail — featured in episode 45 — the “Flaming Cease and Desist.”
And she framed the “Cease and Desist” letter and displayed it at the bar at 2937 N. Milwaukee.
Feisty but also warm, Ms. Clancy won the loyalty of the bands she booked to play at the bar. She’d offer them a free place to crash upstairs in her big, four-bedroom apartment. And she’d feed them homemade mostaccioli and sandwiches she made with meat from the Kurowski Sausage Shop down the street.
“They really loved Moe, and it was like home for them,” said her brother Billy Clancy.
One time, she broke up a bar fight with nothing more than words to cut through the alcohol and adrenaline.
“The fight spilled outside, and it was starting to look like it was going to get violent,” said bar manager JB Bartlett.
Ms. Clancy came out, shouted a few short words, “and everybody stops,” Barlett said.
And then she ordered one of the brawlers to get back inside the bar. Meekly, he complied.
“It was three formidable, bigger guys,” Bartlett said, “And everybody listened to her.”
Ms. Clancy, 56, died of breast cancer July 27 at the Edgewater home of her parents, William and Mary Ann Clancy.
Near the end, “All the brothers and sisters and sisters-in-law, cousins, uncles, aunts, took 12-hour shifts so she was never, ever alone,” Billy Clancy said.
Even the bar’s mascot was there — Lexi, her rescue Jack Russell mix featured on Moe’s T-shirts.
“She wouldn’t get off the foot of the bed,” Billy Clancy said. “She didn’t want to leave Moe even when Cooney’s [funeral home] was coming to get her.”
The bar Ms. Clancy leaves behind is a special place, according to Frank “The Tank” Kirchner, who handles the sound at Moe’s Tavern. “Even if I’m not working,” Kirchner said, “I would go to hang out.”
“She was well-loved by every single one of her staff members, all the regulars,” said Bartlett, who plays guitar for the band Waxworks.
Wade Baker of the Wade Baker Jazz Group said Ms. Clancy was like an aunt.
“I can’t tell you all the nights we stayed up until it was no longer dark, talking about life and philosophy and the business, people to let into my life, people not to let in my life,” Baker said.
“She was not only vital in the music community, but, during my time hanging out there, I’ve seen gangs put things aside,” he said. “I saw dudes that wouldn’t talk to each other on the street playing pool together or shooting darts. She’s the one who facilitated all that.”
Baker said he’s never gotten the same feeling from any club he’s played in North America or Europe compared with Moe’s Tavern: “Man, you could walk in there on any given day and time and experience a feeling of belonging.”
Ms. Clancy was the oldest girl and second of six Clancy children. She went to St. Ita’s grade school and Good Counsel High School. After getting a degree in marketing and management from DePaul University, she formed a research firm, IRSS.
“I wouldn’t be in business today if it weren’t for her,” said her brother Brendan Clancy, who owns Clancy’s Public House in Portage, Indiana. She helped him with money and marketing advice.
“Moe’s famous attribute is tellin’ it like it is,” said Kevin Clancy, another brother. “There was no question where Maureen stood on any issue.”
In addition to her parents William and Mary Ann and brothers Billy, Brendan and Kevin, Ms. Clancy’s survivors include her sister Sheila and brother Chris.
Visitation is from 3 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Cooney’s Funeral Home in Park Ridge and from 9 a.m. Friday until an 11 a.m. funeral Mass Friday at St. Ita’s Church, 5500 N. Broadway.
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