Goodbye To A Great Person and Friend
by: Laurie Button
How in the world do you begin writing something worthy of the man we knew as Tim Mayhew? For several hours my fingers have been assembling words on the keyboard and then erasing them just as quickly with the delete key. None of the sentences that emerged on the computer screen came close to expressing the emotions that Tim’s family, friends and coworkers are feeling at this moment in time.
Tim passed away unexpectedly this week, leaving a black hole in our hearts. For those of us who worked with him on a daily basis at The Fairgrounds at Stanley Park, we openly admit to being in a state of denial. Personally, I’m still expecting him to open the office door, plop himself into the chair across from my desk and start talking. I can see him taking the well-worn straw hat from his head, absentmindedly fingering the feather caught in the hatband and then listening as he began to tell me whatever was on his mind. We talked about all kinds of things. He would share the pride he felt when his grandson, Gage, won the Fishing Derby earlier this month and how his new granddaughter, Jade, was no longer afraid of his trademark moustache and liked playing with it. That moustache, I must admit, was sometimes a little lopsided and at times I felt the need to tilt my head to make the two ends even. But I loved that moustache, just as we all loved Tim. We talked about his “girls,” the cows he doted over during the summer months on a ranch near the North End, his escapades with wild turkeys and mountain lions, and his many fishing excursions.
Tim was a man who had no room for pretention and for him, laziness was not only unacceptable, but inexplicable.
Of course, people who had never met Tim sometimes needed a dictionary to translate his down-home means of expression. He had a way of describing everyday occurrences that oftentimes left the uninitiated confused and with that blank “deer-in-the-headlights” look we are all so familiar with.
I don’t mean to put a stick in your spokes, but …
It’s like bobbing for water – you can’t miss.
Where did you cut your teeth? (In other words, where were you born?)
Could I get some more mud? (meaning coffee)
In his job with the Town of Estes Park (a position he held for more than two decades), every year he was required to enlist a group of individuals to work for him at the fairgrounds. In the end, he referred to each of those employees as “Virgil.” When asked why, Tim told me that if he called for a person by name, he had one chance to have that particular employee respond to his plea. But if everybody was “Virgil,” he could guarantee that at least one person would respond to his call. As for me, in the summer of 1998, I was “Virgette,” a name I will feel more than honored to claim until my dying day.
In retrospect, I wish you could have been a fly on the wall when our staff ventured with Tim to events across the state. While his mission was always discovering new products and ways to improve our fairgrounds operations, he truly did like to eat. And the Golden Corral was one of Tim’s favorite destinations.
I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed an individual who could carry more plates than he could at any given time. He was a man who liked his food and plenty of it, but then he needed that nutrition to fuel his ever-active lifestyle. Whether it was building his own barn or being there for his family, Tim gave life everything he had to offer. No holds barred.
For me, one of the most telling events regarding Tim happened a year ago in April 2007. Our household woke to a horse writhing in pain and prone on the ground. In an instant of panic, I called to say I might be late coming into work. Without a moment’s hesitation, Tim offered to come and take a look. The particular mare in question, Sweet Pea, is admittedly opinionated, spoiled and difficult. But when Tim entered our pasture and approached her, she didn’t object. Sweet Pea trusted him completely. She allowed him to gently and knowingly run his hands along her legs and manipulate them to see where the pain was emanating from. That may seem like an unusual or perhaps meaningless statement to most, but in reality, animals seem to have an innate means of judging people. They seem to know who is worthy and who is not. And Tim Mayhew was definitely worthy.
Tim used to routinely come into the office and share bits of information with Fairgrounds Manager Bo Winslow about upcoming shows and events. He always began with a disclaimer about “If I ever get into a carwreck, you’re going to need this.” We never dreamed something would happen causing us to lose him forever.
As I travel through life, I will never forget the values and honor Tim brought to this existence. As a person, he was one of a kind. And each day I will look toward the heavens and thank God that I was allowed to count Tim as part of my life. And now that his voice has been silenced, many of us are at a loss as far as what to do. But having said that, he will always be in our hearts and therefore never far from our thoughts. And a proud “Virgette” I will remain forever.