By: Randy Tucker
He had a grip that made the toughest high school kids cry, ‘uncle.’ His wife, Rita, taught business classes next to my history and math classroom. We became fast friends as Tim often visited his wife Rita when off duty.
Tim was a Wyoming Highway patrolman, a good one. A guy who enforced the law without pretense or any need to prove how tough he was, but tough he was.
The Greybull High School graduate was a standout football player for the Buffs, but mostly Tim was a family man, raising three great sons.
Tim drove the 22-miles from Shoshoni to Riverton each morning, as I drove from our home in Riverton to teach and coach at Shoshoni High School. I’d leave the house about 7 a.m. each day to make it to my classroom a good half hour before the faculty was required to show up.
I’d catch up on paperwork, work on lesson plans and practice schedules, and keep an open door for kids who wanted to talk. That talking time between teacher, coach, student, and athlete is something the geniuses that second guess education in America always miss. It’s the student/teacher connection that makes a difference in the lives of troubled kids.
Tim did the same thing as a patrolman and an elder in the local Mormon Church. LDS or not, the kids of Shoshoni enjoyed his dry humor and stories about games and days gone by in the little Wyoming town.
Each morning as Tim and I commuted to our jobs, we passed each other halfway between Riverton and Shoshoni over 180 times a year for 15 years; that’s a lot of highway meetings when you do the math.
Each time we passed I was driving faster than the speed limit. For a while, it was 55 miles per hour, and I’d be doing 63; then it changed to 70 and I was always rolling along at 74. It was a standing joke between Tim and I for 15 years.
One morning Tim dropped by my room before school, “Don’t you see me pointing my finger down every time we pass each other?”
Sure, I did, he was telling me to slow down every time we passed, and it was close to 3,000 times before he retired, and I changed schools.
“No, I thought you just had a funny way of waving hello,” I said with a grin. It got a deep, harrumph from Tim as he left my room.
The value of a man like Tim came to the fore around my 10th year in Shoshoni.
We had a couple of half-brothers who were always in trouble at school. They’d come from Montana as a sophomore and a freshman; and we weren’t able to make much difference in their soon to be criminal careers.
One afternoon as I headed out to track practice, I saw deputies, highway patrol cars, and an EMS crew blaze up the highway with sirens blaring. Another bad accident in the Wind River Canyon I thought, but that wasn’t it.
The two brothers were high on something and holed up in an abandoned house at the nearby ghost town of Bonneville, a few miles north of the school.
They had a couple of deputies pinned down with a .270 rifle. The guys were safe behind the engine blocks of their SUVs but couldn’t move and had nothing in their arsenal to match the .270 firepower of the brothers.
Tim heard the call on his way south from the Hot Springs County line, north of the situation.
He parked his cruiser and crept up on the abandoned house from the rear.
There was no door, and he could see the brothers set up on a window ledge firing at the deputies below.
Tim is a big man, not built for stealth, but he moved silently into the room.
The brothers never heard him until it was too late. Tim never pulled his 9mm, but got within striking distance, and then shouted “Hey!”
As the brother with the rifle spun around to look, Tim knocked him unconscious with a single punch to the face. The other brother was familiar with the big man in the highway patrol uniform and instantly surrendered.
The brothers earned a stay at the state’s finest penitentiary in Rawlins where they were allowed to bunk together for a few years.
Tim never mentioned the incident, but it became a local legend.
Two summers ago, I spotted one of his sons and a couple of his grandsons, athletic young men, in a sporting goods store buying fishing licenses.
I said hello to Matt and asked the grandsons, “Can you guys beat your grandpa in a grip contest?”
They looked shocked, and sheepish at the same time.
“Are you kidding, nobody can beat him.”
A good man is a good man, no matter the age.
Randy Tucker is a retired history teacher and freelance writer from western Wyoming. He has a lifetime of experience in farming, ranching, hunting and fishing in the shadow of the Wind River Mountains. Contact him at email@example.com.