Remembering a shoeshine man

Lovell Tims died a few weeks ago but good luck finding anything about him online, even though he was quite the iconic figure at the U.S. Bank Plaza in downtown Minneapolis.

Tims was a shoeshine guy and obituaries cost money, so one was never printed nor published.

This is a flaw. Obituaries are moneymakers for newspapers, especially now that classified ads are mostly dead. A person should have a decent obituary so there’s a recognition he/she was on this planet for a short period of time.

The local funeral home set up a page where people could post their remembrances…

“I work across the street from the US Bank bldg, so i walked by him 3 x a day. You could always hear his booming voice a 100 yards away, we’d usually fire a quick one liner at each other, like ‘Garnett needs to retire!'” Robert Godfrey posted. “He gave me a piece of candy for Christmas.”

There’s nothing sadder than a person dying without a proper obituary.

So thumbs up to Star Tribune reporter Adam Belz, who went online to ask for more information from people who knew Tims, prompted by this tweet.

Tims now has his obituary, which is printed in today’s paper.

A native of Durant, Miss., and the third of six children, Tims left home for Waterloo, Iowa, when he was a teenager. He ended up in the Twin Cities working for American Hoist and Derrick and got into shining shoes later. He got his booth in the U.S. Bank Plaza eight years ago.

“He bragged about that shoeshine business,” said Tims’ younger sister, Maxcine Outlaw. “He was making money, and people loved him.”

Until recently, he rode his bike downtown from his apartment near the corner of Chicago Avenue and 36th Street. When it was too cold or rainy, he rode the bus.

His sister said he was a stubborn man — always ready to argue and refusing to quit smoking even after his doctor told him to stop. Even after receiving the cancer diagnosis in October, he sneaked outside to smoke out of sight of his friends in the building.

“I prayed for him and then I sat on the bed beside him, and he looked at me and said, ‘How come this happened to me?’ ” Outlaw said, describing one of their last conversations. “I said, ‘Because, when you first knew that this was going on, you didn’t tell us, because you didn’t want to stop smoking.’ ”

Lovell Tims was on this earth for 74 years.