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A LESSON IN BENEVOLENCE

Tim Flaherty taught us to always keep kind in mind. We should keep his memory alive by doing just that

Messenger file photo: Tim Flaherty stands outside of his Fort Dodge Hy-Vee store.

Customer service has almost become a lost art in today’s society.

Companies rely on technology and automation to make experiences “easier” for the consumer. In reality, businesses often turn their backs on what built them in the first place: taking care of workers and clientele, first and foremost.

Tim Flaherty always adhered to those “old school” principles. Hy-Vee’s district director for the Fort Dodge, Webster City, Iowa Falls and Eldora stores felt completely at home serving as the face of these locations. And it wasn’t just for show: if you spent any time in his aisles, you saw Tim in the trenches with his sleeves rolled up. His professional passion was being there for the people who needed his help or guidance. A resolute — yet reassuring — voice, balancing quick wit and humor with a focus on the task at hand.

When I received an emotional message from Fort Dodge softball coach Andi Adams last Friday night that Tim’s hours were numbered, my thoughts immediately shifted to his wife, Jodi, and the rest of his family. I covered the rest of the Dodger football team’s game at Ames in a fog, as my mind turned to all the conversations Tim and I had through the years either at the store or in the street between our houses, separated by only half a block.

When we weren’t talking about his beloved Nebraska Cornhuskers, Creighton Bluejays or St. Edmond Gaels, we’d just discuss any of the local comings and goings around the neighborhood and beyond. Tim had a firm belief in his hometown; he was always the first to offer a hand with a wide variety of local endeavors, regardless of the school or cause.

He also loved his family dearly and unconditionally. You could see the pride in his eyes every time he talked about Jodi, the kids, his parents or his siblings. His work and service to Fort Dodge were undoubtedly important, but it all paled in comparison to the relationship he had with his inner circle.

Tim passed away on Monday. The 1989 St. Edmond graduate had so much more to give at just 50 years old. It’s still such a shock to speak about him in a past tense, in much the same way our community mourned the tragic and sudden losses of Mark Cady, Steve Springer, Al Henderson and many others recently. Irreplaceable people gone far too soon.

This is a stark reminder of life’s fragility and vulnerability. It’s also a call to service; as I wrote after the immeasurable deaths of both Cady and Springer, a true leader like Tim Flaherty — who set aside fortune and recognition for the good of his family, his faith and his community — would like nothing more than to see everyone rally around his true memory. Tim gave us a blueprint for real, meaningful success in life by setting an altruistic example. It’s up to us to follow in his selfless footsteps and collectively see his visions — for his family, his church, his service projects and his work — through.

Tim leaves behind a beautiful, strong family. We are incredibly lucky that many of them call Fort Dodge home to this day, and many others will always consider it to be the same. Our community, at its core, is a man like Tim from a tree like the Flahertys. He took care of us in so many different ways — now it’s time to return the favor and live in the legacy he leaves behind.

Eric Pratt is Sports Editor at The Messenger. Contact him via email at sports@messengernews.net, or on Twitter @ByEricPratt

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