Retired and decorated U.S. Air Force Technical Sgt. Lawrence C. Timbs died January 25, 2012, at the Life Care Center of Elizabethton.
Author of two books â€” â€œMountain Memoriesâ€ (1968) and â€œTragedy at Old Fish Springsâ€ (1981), Mr. Timbs was 90 years old. He was a World War II and Korean War veteran, having served in the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force.
One of 15 children, born in Fish Springs, Tenn., to Avery and Roberta Williams Timbs, Mr. Timbs retired from the military in October 1962 after serving in Virginia, the Mohave Desert in California, the island of Kauai in Hawai, in the jungles of New Guinea, on the island of Moratai in the Pacific and on the island of Luzon in the Philippines.
Mr. Timbs also saw duty at Seward Air Force Base near Smyrna, Tenn.; Korea during the Korean Conflict; Eglin Field, near Niceville, Fla.; Austin, Texas; Nagoya, Japan; McGhee-Tyson Air Force Base near Maryville, Tenn.; and at Ent Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo.
In the Air Force, he was a recruiter, a historian, reporter and newspaper editor, covering some of the early NASA rocket launches and leading a publication focusing on the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD) and the Air Forceâ€™s Space Command.
The Skyline Observer, a newspaper he edited in Colorado Springs, won a number of prizes and honors for its outstanding journalism.
Mr. Timbs, who, as a boy, had hoed corn on a rough, steep Tennessee hillside for 10 cents an hour, retired from the military with a chest full of medals and decorations, including: the Army Commendation Ribbon, Distinguished Unit Citation, Air Force Unit Award, Good Conduct Medal, American Defense Service Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Ribbon with three Bronze Service Stars, World War II Victory Medal, Army of Occupation Medal (Japan), National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal with five Bronze Service Stars, Air Force Longevity Service Award with four Bronze Oakleaf Clusters, Philippine Liberation Medal, Philippine Presidential Citation, United States Presidential Citation and the Republic of Korea Presidential Citation.
Upon completing his career in the Air Force, Mr. Timbs returned to East Tennessee and worked as a park ranger/naturalist in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park at the Visitorâ€™s Center near Gatlinburg. He also gave expert presentations and led hikes through the mountains at Cades Cove. He knew the English and Latin name for almost every species of flower, tree and animal in the Smokies.
Leaving East Tennessee in late 1967, Mr. Timbs and his family moved to Newport News, Va., where he was employed for almost a year in the worldâ€™s largest dry-dock shipyard. He helped build the US Navy aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy.
Mr. Timbs next worked for the City of Newport News Park as a ranger and naturalist.
He retired from that job after 14 years, and he and his wife, Dixie Nadine Jenkins Timbs, moved back to his wifeâ€™s parentsâ€™ old home place in Valley Forge between Hampton and Elizabethton. He became a faithful member of the Valley Christian Church, where he served as teacher, Sunday School superintendent and as president of the Menâ€™s Bible Class. He also served as treasurer, vice-president and president of the Carter County Menâ€™s Christian Fellowship. He had been an Election Day worker at the Valley Forge Elementary voting place.
Mr. Timbs loved the outdoors, cherished a good story, loved his wife, children, grandchildren and great grandchildren; and reminisced frequently about what it was like to grow up in hardscrabble Fish Springs in such a large family. Money was scarce but the Timbs clan always had a few pigs, chickens and a milk cow so no one went hungry, Mr. Timbs recalled. All the Timbs children, he said, always seemed to get an apple or an orange or a piece of stick candy for Christmas. When he enlisted in the military, he didnâ€™t forget where he came from â€” sending a portion of his monthly $21 paycheck back home to Fish Springs to help his parents and siblings.
In his later years, Mr. Timbs enjoyed gardening, reading, porch sitting, talking politics and eating delicious Sunday lunches prepared by his wife for him and his family and friends.
His two books, â€œMountain Memoriesâ€ and â€œTragedy at Old Fish Springsâ€ chronicle what life was like late in the 19th Century and early in the 20th Century in and near Fish Springs. The latter book has been rewritten by his son, Larry C. Timbs Jr., and by Hampton, Tenn., resident Michael Manuel. Timbs and Manuel are seeking to have the book published under the title â€œBelow the Surface: Voices From the Graves at Fish Springs, Tenn.â€
Mr. Timbs was born Feb. 2, 1921, and was preceded in death by his parents, Avery and Roberta Williams Timbs; by his brothers, Worley, Glen, Carl, Billy Robert and Charlie Timbs; and by his sister, Jonnie Harrison.
Survivors are his wife, Dixie Nadine Jenkins Timbs; son, Larry Timbs Jr. and wife, Patsy Robinson Timbs; daughter, Cheryl Timbs and fiancÃ©, Crawford Alexander; son, Edward Timbs; grandsons, Hugh Anderson, Josh Anderson and wife, Debra; grandson Zach Anderson; grandson Crawford Timbs III; grandsons, Justin Timbs and Jessie Timbs; granddaughters, Sharyn Calcavecchio, Dorothy Yeung and husband, Patrick Yeung, Elizabeth Roberta Timbs, Jamie Timbs McQueen and husband, Jason McQueen. Also surviving are great-grandchildren Antonina, Gabriella, Angelo and Giancarlo Calcavecchio, Lucy Brooke and Cecilia Clare Yeung, Dylan, Keelan Nadine and Brennyn Avery Anderson, Mason McQueen, Joselyn Timbs and Lane Timbs. Other survivors are: sisters, Retha Hamm, Novella Peters and Fannie Taylor; brothers, Wallace, J.A. â€œJade,â€ Ruben and Gene Timbs, and several nieces and nephews.
The graveside service will be conducted at 2 PM on Saturday, January 28th, at Happy Valley Memorial Park with Mr. David Siebenaler, minister, of Valley Forge Christian Church, officiating. Music will be under the direction of Alex Holtsclaw and Freida Winters. Military honors will be accorded by the Carter County Honor Guard. Pallbearers will be Wallace, J.A., Earnest, Ruben and Gene Timbs; and grandsons Hugh, Josh and Zach Anderson; Crawford Timbs and Justin and Jesse Timbs. Honorary pallbearers will be the Menâ€™s Class and Deacons and Elders at Valley Forge Christian Church.
Guests may sign the register and attend the viewing on Friday, January 27th, from 12 Noon-5 PM or on Saturday, January 28th, from 9 AM-1 PM.
Those wishing to attend the graveside service are asked to meet at Tetrick Funeral Home, Elizabethton, at 1:15 PM on Saturday to go in procession to the cemetery.
Memorial contributions may be made in lieu of flowers to: Valley Forge Christian Church, 114 VFCC Church Road, Elizabethton, TN 37643.
The family wishes to express their appreciation to the staff of Life Care Center of Elizabethton for their loving care of our beloved husband, father and brother.
Online condolences may be sent to the family by visiting www.tetrickfuneralhome.com and signing the guest book or by fax 423 542-9499.
Tetrick Funeral Home, Elizabethton, is serving the family. Office 423 542-2232, Obituary line 543-4917.