HARKER HEIGHTS — Sean Wieland was a family man, who looked after others and always made people laugh.
But no one was looking after the 26-year-old when he got behind the wheel on April 19, after drinking with his friends in Jacksonville, Fla.
That night Sean Wieland, a U.S. Navy seaman, lost control of his 2007 Dodge Charger and ran into the car of Alicia Gladden, 27, a former Florida State University basketball player.
After Sean Wieland’s death, his parents, Robert and Judy Wieland, were upset that a Florida establishment overserved their son, and that no one was there to stop him from drinking and driving.
Searching for ways to prevent other parents from going through what they’ve been through this year, the couple bought the old Fireside bar on Farm-to-Market 2410 in Harker Heights in September and named it Sean’s Pub.
“My logic in life was if I can stop another family from going through what me and his mother had to go through — a death — because of some irresponsible bartender overserving; I’m not going to allow that to happen. No more,” Robert Wieland said. “That’s another reason why me and his mother bought this. Because we can control the alcohol. We drive people home. We support water and soda. We don’t want the drunken atmosphere. We’re looking for the relaxed, family atmosphere.”
Wieland, a retired sergeant major, said he provides a service that no other bar does, including paying for taxis and catering to soldiers’ needs by personally picking them up and dropping them off at post so they can have a safe evening out.
“All my life, I took care of people. It’s the same thing here,” Wieland said. “Now I can stop someone else from getting the knock on the door saying, ‘I lost my son’ or ‘I lost my daughter.’”
Wieland is looking for other ways to give back to the community, too.
Since purchasing the bar, he has hosted numerous charity events, including Sunday’s Bell County Habitat for Humanity 20th anniversary celebration at the pub.
Steve Church, the nonprofit’s executive director, said Wieland donated services and supplies to the nonprofit throughout the years and plans to continue to give back to the community by helping other nonprofits.
In memory of Sean
“Everything that they do is in memory of (Sean),” Church said.
Sean Wieland grew up going to family-oriented pubs in Pennsylvania with his parents and grandparents. With an Irish heritage and a recent duty station in Ireland, Sean Wieland dreamed of opening a pub with his mom.
After his death, his parents took over that dream and gave Sean’s Pub the motto of “People serving people.”
“(Sean) always made ... people laugh and that’s what we do here. We want people to be happy. People think of bars and pubs as a place to go get rid of something; your sorrows — you’re either happy because you’re in love, you’re depressed because you’re financially strapped,” Robert Wieland said. “They have to come (to bars) for relief. We share that with them; they tell us their problems and they leave back out of here with a smile on their face (knowing) it’s going to be OK. We’re one big family.”
Wieland’s family is used to saying “see you later,” instead of “goodbye” and always part with hugs. At Sean’s Pub, customers will leave with that same sentiment, knowing someone is looking after and taking care of them.
“Since we took over, there’s been no fighting, there’s no attempts. They leave their knives in their cars. There’s no more of that. They’ve got an issue, we fix it and they’re happy because I can control the alcohol that they take,” Wieland said. “You’re not going to get drunk in my bar. I’m sorry. We’re not going to let you do that, but you will drink (a) glass of water if you want another one.”