I think most of us know – now more than ever before – how important our local school teachers, support staff, coaches and principals are to the development of our children.
The Covid-19 shutdown of schools has been a wake-up call for most of us. Those who work at a school are not replacements for us as parents but they help us in ways words can’t explain. This abrupt end to the school year has given all families more respect for what schools do for our kids. That circle of trust inside any school includes a special group of men and women who have chosen a path in life to help us guide our children through their important growing years.
I want to tell you the story of one of those special people who gave 20 years of his life helping others. Tim Hollern made it his mission as a coach, teacher and administrator to ensure every child and family he came into contact with had a chance to be better off than they were before they met him.
My good friend, and current Grand Rapids Community College assistant baseball coach, Mark Rasmussen, coached and worked with Tim Hollern.
“You just know when somebody is going to be a great dad, a great educator, a great coach,” Rasmussen said earlier this week to mlive.com.
TIM HOLLERN MADE A DIFFERENCE
Tim Hollern was put on this earth to make a difference in so many lives.
When I moved to the Forest Hills Eastern School District, I met Tim for the first time. His job title as assistant principal meant he had influence and contact with my two older children. Tim had a compassion in his voice you could feel. I did know of the Hollern family in the Grand Rapids area. I knew it was a strong family based on love, faith and sports. His brother Ted was a fire-hydrant type football player with speed during his playing days at Grand Rapids Catholic Central and then later at CMU. Ted also chose to help mold kids to be better in the classroom and in sports as a teacher, coach, and now athletic director at Wyoming High School on the west side of Michigan.
Tim was like Ted, or any Hollern I have ever met. I always walked away feeling better about life after any conversation with a Hollern family member.
In 2011 Tim Hollern was diagnosed with colon cancer. He fought it hard for eight and a half years. His wife, three children, family and friends all marveled at his toughness. Tim was a never-give-up type of guy. He refused to lose. I was there in early December 2019 when Lowell and Forest Hills Eastern High Schools did a night of hoops to let the Tim and the Hollern family know they were not alone in this latest battle with cancer. Tim was there to address the crowd and say thank you. There wasn’t a dry eye in the gym.
IMMUNE SYSTEM WEAKENED
I stayed in touch with Tim via email the first part of this year. He would always respond. I heard he was doing better. I thought he was going to beat it again. A couple of weeks ago I ran into his niece MacKenzie at a local Meijer. She told me Tim was in hospice at his mother’s home. She said he only had a few days left to live. She said he now had Covid-19 because his immune system was weakened by cancer. She mentioned that because of the no-contact rules with the virus, his bed was placed by a window they could open up so family and friends could stop by and let Tim know they were thinking of him. My heart hurt at that time for Tim, his family, and his many friends.
I got word Monday that Tim died with his family by his side. He said goodbye to all who loved him. I know Tim Hollern left a strong legacy for other men, teachers, support staff, coaches and principals to follow in their life journeys.
God Bless Tim, the Hollern family and all who knew him. He was a good man.
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Photo courtesy of the Hollern family