‘The epitome of a Hy-Vee manager’
FD store director Flaherty passed away on Monday
Tim Flaherty, the Fort Dodge Hy-Vee store director who became known in and out of the grocery store for his infectious smile and selfless attitude, passed away on Monday. He was 50.
Flaherty, a Fort Dodge native, was hospitalized last week after suffering a heart attack and experiencing respiratory problems. He had been working at the Fort Dodge Hy-Vee for the past nine-plus years. Flaherty had also spent time overseeing other Hy-Vee stores in the region.
“Tim wore his smile no matter what day of the week you ran into him,” said Fort Dodge Mayor Matt Bemrich, who first met Flaherty when the two attended St. Edmond High School more than 30 years ago. “Whether it was in one of the aisles in Hy-Vee or just in passing in the community, he was always quick to greet you and ask how you were doing. He knew something about you or something going on with you or your family and kids. He was always curious about what was going on in your life.”
Flaherty’s commitment to Hy-Vee and the community was admirable, Bemrich said.
“Tim just exuded the idea of community,” Bemrich said. “Whether it was at work or through the schools, through the (Holy Trinity Catholic) Church — he was always one to volunteer his time and his talents and look to give back and not take first. He wanted to give back to the community. He was always looking at what he could do next to be helpful or make something better. He lived his life that way no matter what he was doing.”
Bruce Murman, a 44-year employee of Hy-Vee, remembers working with Flaherty as a teenager.
“I first met Tim when he was 16 years old,” said Murman, who manages the Fort Dodge Hy-Vee Wine and Spirits store. “My first impression was he is a stellar young man. He was very personable, fun loving and always wanting to please. Many years later, he is my friend, my confidant and my store manager.”
Flaherty went to work for Hy-Vee in 1987. In addition to Fort Dodge, he also worked at stores in Omaha and Mason City.
“In April of 2012, Tim called me asking questions about the Fort Dodge managerial opening,” Murman said. “My comment was, ‘Tim, Fort Dodge needs you.’
Flaherty’s first department head meeting back in Fort Dodge was memorable.
“I was so impressed with my “stellar high schooler,” Murman said. “I will never forget him saying in the conclusion of his department head meeting, ‘remember the sweetest words to a customer’s ear are please and thank you.'”
Murman described Flaherty as the “epitome of a Hy-Vee manager.”
“Tim leads by example,” Murman said. “He works the floor. He is a people person and he fully supports his staff. I would call him a throwback, old school manager practicing fundamentals and friendliness on which our company was founded upon.”
In recent times, Murman said he would see Flaherty three to four times a week and he would often greet Murman the same way.
“He would say, ‘what’s up, sunshine?'” Murman recalled. “I’ll miss that.”
In addition to his Hy-Vee family, Flaherty was dedicated to his own family.
“His wife (Jodi) and (four) kids mean the world to him,” Murman said.
Joe Hancock, of Omaha, Nebraska, first met Flaherty in grade school at Corpus Christi in Fort Dodge. The two also attended the same junior high (Sacred Heart) and high school. They were then college roommates at Creigton University and eventually best men at each other’s weddings.
“There aren’t enough superlatives to fully capture who he was as a father, a son, a brother, a friend and just a person,” Hancock said. “He meant so much to everyone he knew. I am a better person for having known him.”
Flaherty and Hancock bonded over basketball during their middle school years.
“In junior high it was unbelievable how often I was at his house playing basketball,” Hancock said. “And then we played basketball together all the way through high school.”
Hancock said Flaherty gave him memories he will have the rest of his life.
Throughout the past week, Hancock said he has been in touch with a number of people who knew and respected Flaherty.
“I knew he had touched a lot of people’s lives but when it got down to it, it became strikingly evident just how many people he did have an impact on,” Hancock said. “It’s not surprising but you don’t really know until you start talking to people you haven’t talked to for 10 years. He was just a nice guy, period.”