Saturday, June 20, 2009

Tim Chavez succumbs to cancer at 50

"God has allowed me to live so much longer than I deserved. Now I am ready to see Him, if He so judges that I can."

Former Tennessean columnist Tim Chavez died this past Thursday at the age of 50.

Funeral and donation details can be found at the Nashville City Paper and the Tennessean.

High school friend looks back

One of Tim's high school friends, Marisa Treviño of Latina Lista, posted a remembrance called Remembering my friend Tim Chavez. This is an excerpt:
I knew Tim when he was a goofy high school student with a quick wit and a sense of humor that made it hard to stay offended by his adolescent jokes.
For Tim and I, writing was the lifeline we shared to make sense of people, who as Tim liked to describe, through the "poverty of their experiences" couldn't see the harm their rhetoric and actions had on a community that struggled to live equally.

Though there were many sides of Tim, the Tim I will always remember is the goofy, joking high schooler who blossomed into a brave defender of people's rights.
Read Treviño's entire post here.

Tim on

Chavez first appeared in the Hispanic Nashville Notebook for his 2004 column describing the support for Hispanic Achievers in Williamson County.

Chavez's local fame/infamy in Nashville was highlighted by this entry in the 2006 edition of the contest You Are So Nashville If...
You don’t mind the immigrants, but wish you could deport Tim Chavez.
I interacted with Chavez for the first time in the wake of the article in Liz Garrigan's Nashville Scene piece describing Chavez's termination at the Tennessean following his initial leukemia-induced medical leave. At the time, Chavez said his greatest regret was not having a farewell column to thank his readers:
“I’m grateful to my friends and readers who have told me they would pray for me,” he says. “And now I’m sort of powerless to tell them how much.”
I got Tim's number from Garrigan and offered to reprint his writings at if he was interested. That led to two columns: one about the Our Lady of Guadalupe church in Nashville being a symbol of the importance of welcoming immigrants, which drew on his parents' roots in Kansas; and one about the same church raising close to $1 million toward retiring the debt of its new building. I also asked him for his opinion on the 2008 presidential candidates.

Ultimately, I helped Chavez set up Political Salsa, which he launched in May 2008. Anyone who followed his columns at the Tennessean but didn't know that he was still writing afterwards may be surprised at how prolific he was at that site.

Contemplating a farewell

In February of this year, Chavez was hired as a columnist at the Williamson Herald. At the same time, he described a "great risk" of imminent death due to recent developments. He also said that if he had been able to write a farewell to his readers at the Tennessean before his departure in 2007, this post on Political Salsa would have been it. Here is an excerpt:
I no longer fear death. And I need no one to fix this situation for me. It is mine.

If I do live, that is fine. If I die soon, however, I have no regrets. God has blessed me so much that I long to see his face and that of my mother. The sooner, the better. I have found a close friend to be executor of my estate and make sure my fortune goes to the children of Tennessee in their public education.

I just want my former readers to know now that I survived, marvelously so, and that God is so compassionate. That is reason for them to have hope now in their lives and in the cancers they face and other challenges such as the economy.

Don't feel one bit sorry for me. God has allowed me to live so much longer than I deserved. Now I am ready to see Him, if He so judges that I can. May all praise be to the Lord. His mercy endures forever. Let the House of Israel say, His mercy endures forever.

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