Meditation on Romans 8:18-32, 35, 37-39
In Memory of Bill Timmons
Aug. 14, 1927-May 14, 2020
The Presbyterian Church, Coshocton, Ohio
Pastor Karen Crawford
July 18, 2020
It didn’t matter that the chameleons were going to die within months of Bill setting them loose to feast on bugs in his backyard. The point was that in those three or four months of freedom—so much better than their life crowded into a dirty tank in a pet store—the tropical creatures would have abundant life, like they never had before.
Bill Timmons was a man who truly LIVED. He was a hard worker, a doer, an outside the box thinker, someone who liked to take things apart just to see how things fit together and worked, a risk taker, someone who wasn’t afraid to express his opinion, even if no one else in the room shared his beliefs.
He had his first paying job at the age of 5, growing up on a farm near Canal Lewisville. He earned a nickel every evening when he climbed Hay’s Hill and brought home the neighbor’s cow. Later, his entrepreneurial spirit would lead him to build a chicken coop in their backyard and keep several hens for fresh eggs. His parents must have recognized the importance of giving responsibility to children at a young age, having high expectations so that they are challenged to live up to them and quite possibly exceed them. This made an impression on Bill because that is how he treated his own four daughters—encouraging them to learn everything they could learn, be everything they could be, do everything they dreamed of doing. Everyone was expected to go to college and work hard. His high expectations and encouragement continued with his grandchildren, whether it was learning to tie shoes or going to dental school. He was proud of them all.
Bill also worked as a paper boy, and, in high school, for the Farmer’s Exchange on Hickory Street, feeding livestock; mowing, raking and loading hay; and working on various farms while the men were away fighting in WWII.
Bill wasn’t all work and no play. He was a drummer and formed a band. The Bill Timmons orchestra played gigs at Lake Park and other local dances. He was small in stature but still enjoyed sports. He played junior varsity football and took a beating from kids much bigger than he. A friend of his younger brother, Bob, admired Bill for having the guts to play against guys who were 75 pounds heavier or more. He was a fighter.
He never took the easy way out. His father was a colonel in the Army in WWII, and he could have arranged for Bill to go to Officers Candidates School. I can just imagine the conversation Bill had with his dad. I wonder if his father was as stubborn as Bill? Bill, instead, enlisted in the regular army when he graduated from high school in 1945. After boot camp, he was stationed in the Philippines and in Occupied Japan. The Army, recognizing his keen intelligence, placed him with the Cryptology Section of The Army Security Agency Pacific. His military experiences would lead him to work for veterans. Bill initiated the idea of the Killed in Action bridge-naming project in Coshocton County. Since 2003, about 100 bridges have been named to honor local soldiers who lost their lives serving their country in WWII.
After the War, Bill went to college. He transferred to Ohio State from Denison to earn a business degree. He worked his way through college by driving a cab and selling Cut-Co Knives door-to- door. He met Mary on a blind, double date. He chose the tall blonde who was a student at Ohio Wesleyan. She wouldn’t have gone if it weren’t for her sorority sister who persuaded her. Bill pursued Mary, calling her at 3 a.m. in the dorm just to talk. They had other dates, fell in love, and got engaged.
They were married in her parents’ backyard in Washington, PA, on June 23, 1950. When they returned to Coshocton, Bill worked for his father and then started Yankee Wire Cloth in 1963, with Mary and a partner in an old skating rink in West Lafayette. One couldn’t start a small business without hope and caring for one’s neighbor, the beloved community, regardless of its size. He and Mary had opportunities to sell the business over the years, but what would happen to the employees and their families and the town? Some things are more important than money.
He and Mary have given generously of their time and resources to make a difference in the lives of many people. They have supported the Presbyterian Church, the animal shelter, Coshocton Hospital, Coshocton Foundation, The Women’s Shelter, The Salvation Army, Pomerene Center for the Arts, Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum, Central Ohio Technical College, Coshocton Community Choir, Kno-Ho-Co Head Start, The Footlight Players, Roscoe Village Foundation, as well as the Girl Scouts, Coshocton Redskins, and Little League, among other groups. They opened their home to an exchange student from South Africa. Bill and Mary were honored in 2012 with The Coshoctonian Award.
Bill loved his family, most of all. He and Mary raised four girls together, providing a loving home that regularly welcomed neighborhood children. Bill dug a pond in their backyard so the kids would have a place to ice skate in winter and fish in summer. Bill and Mary have shared a love for critters and compassion for those in need, housing many rescue animals in their homes and well as feeding many others from their back porch. He and Mary allowed one neighbor to board her horses in their backyard. They had a pony named Perk, along with dogs, cats, ducks, geese, fish, rabbits, mice, and, of course, chameleons, one that was named Wilbur. Bill fed him mealworms on a toothpick.
Janie remembers when her father scooped up a little black dog that had been hit by a car and “left for dead.” He took the animal to a vet and received a call several days later, saying, “Your dog is ready to come home.” They already had a dog, Mopsy, so they had planned on finding him a home. They did. They named him Mike, and he stayed with them.
Their family grew over the years to include 9 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren. Bill remained strongly involved in their lives. He and Mary made time to vacation with their daughters and their families on Fripp Island for 17 years. They traveled to be present at grandchildren’s births, baptisms, soccer games, tennis matches, Eagle Scout ceremonies, and Grandparent’s Day in elementary school. Bill once served as a stand-in for Clay for a Scout tent- camping trip with Tyler.
The daughters never questioned Bill’s love and support. They shared stories with me of how they got into trouble when they were young, some of which Mary didn’t know about. Each time, Bill showed grace and mercy. He made sure they learned their lesson and made amends, apologizing when apologies were needed. Always, there was forgiveness and restoration.
Our Romans reading speaks of the restoration and forgiveness we have with our Heavenly Father. He did not withhold His only Son but gave him up for us because of our sin and His love and desire to be reconciled with us. But our rebirth and the transformation of all creation is a process. It has begun, and it’s painful sometimes. Paul compares it to birth pangs. And yet, we are in a state of eager longing, waiting and hoping for what is to come–our transformation into the Son’s likeness and our new, abundant lives with Him. This kind of reminds me of the tankful of chameleons that Bill bought for a price to set them free so they would live abundantly.
And similar to the lost and stray creatures that Bill and Mary adopted over the years and gave tender, loving care, the Lord has adopted us, forever. We have become the children of God. The Spirit is continually praying for us throughout our trials and suffering, even now, as we grieve. God will do a healing work in us, when the world doesn’t seem to care or understand our grief or expects us to just get over it and get on with things.
Remember that you are never alone in your pain and sorrow. When Bill and Mary were separated because of the virus, their love didn’t end. It is this way with our Lord for all eternity.
“Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Link to Bill Timmons’ Obituary: