short stories about a Hall of Famer who inspired others
By Kathi Cox McClure
The marker on Tim Chavez’s grave says, “For the least of these.”
Chavez always sought to include those who were ignored. He spoke up for the least of these all through his journalism career, no matter the politics of the particular paper he worked for. From inserting subtle liberal tidbits in his TV column for The Sunday Oklahoman, which had a conservative editorial page, to initiating citywide racial discussions for the Observer-Dispatch in Utica, New York, and including conservative voices in his groundbreaking breaking “Equal Time” column in the liberal-leaning Tennessean, he was a voice for many.
His gift, and his goal, was inspiring the passion in others that he felt in his very soul.
Chavez also had a knack for marketing.
In March of his first year as opinion page editor in Utica, New York, he wrote a column bemoaning the winter’s lack of snow—”I have more snow in my freezer than we’ve had here.”
The next Saturday the Blizzard of 1993 dumped 35.6 inches on Utica. In penance, Chavez wore a shirt and shorts and perched for hours atop a massive pile of snow. He sat in a lawn chair and read the newspaper in freezing temperatures.
Utica residents—a hard to please group—loved it. And Chavez, and the newspaper, won a lot of goodwill that day.
And Chavez had a canine-like ability to sniff out news. He found stories everywhere. Driving to the store one day, he spied a man walking on the side of a middle Tennessee road with a man-sized cross on his shoulder.
Chavez pulled over, whipped out the reporter’s notebook he always had in his back pocket, and ran after the man to get his story. The man, depending on the charity of passerby, was walking across the country to proclaim God’s love.
Tim’s work always personified what it took to serve the least of these.
Kathi Cox McClure, a longtime journalist, was Tim Chavez’s wife when he died of leukemia in 2009. His last blog post on May 10, 2009 led with these words: “Every person has a book in them, but first you must have an ending that enlightens and inspires.” In the blog, he added, “…My story is not over yet.”
Tim Chavez, dressed in a shirt and shorts, sits atop a pile of snow in Utica, New York after the blizzard of 1993.