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Timothy Snelgrove

Husband, father, brother, force of nature. Born on July 14, 1944, in Owen Sound, Ont.; died on June 20, 2014, in Barrie, Ont., of a probable stroke after many years of Parkinson's disease, aged 69.

Tim had a real zest for life, and truly enjoyed being with people. Long before the days of smartphone cameras and Facebook postings, he had the habit of taking pictures of an event he shared with you – perhaps sailing on his boat, Beyond, or biking on a mountain trail – and then, within days, delivering to you the photographic evidence of this shared good time. The pictures were a kindness, and they also gave him enormous pleasure.

Tim's interest in people went hand-in-glove with his innate skills as an entrepreneur. He is probably best known for having started the Timothy's coffee shops, although there were other business ventures over the years including Chapters Bookstore Café, an idea that was ahead of its time.

He and his wife Teresa opened the first Timothy's in a mall in London, Ont., in 1975, a year after he entered the MBA program at University of Western Ontario. The idea for the coffee chain grew out of one of his first-year courses; he and Teresa fleshed out the concept over the summer break, built the shop's fixtures in their garage, and borrowed money to buy their inventory.

As Teresa recalls, their fathers thought they were crazy (indeed, the price of coffee beans shot up in their first year of business, thanks to a frost in Brazil). But the company survived and grew; by the time they sold it in 1985, there were 35 outlets in the Timothy's chain.

Tim and Teresa married in 1972 and eventually settled in Toronto where they raised three lovely daughters, Althea, Deirdre, and Alexandra, who brought three wonderful sons-in-law into the family and five much-loved grandchildren.

Tim was very proud of his family, especially Teresa. She was his partner in several ventures, including a chain of health and fitness stores called General Wellbeing, which they sold in 1996. That same year they started Snelgrove Associates, doing executive search for high-tech and biotech firms. The company flourished until Tim retired in 2009.

His passions included sailing, mountain biking and opera. But his essential appetite was for Life with a capital L. In his final 15 years, he was bedevilled by Parkinson's disease; although it slowed him, he faced his debility with determination and stoic grace.

Tim's greatest legacy is the way he lived his life, and how he dealt with his illness. He shone most brightly as a teacher, friend and mentor, always ready to share his wisdom and encouragement. Many of us are in his debt. Perhaps fittingly, one of the first responders to the emergency call after Tim suffered his probable stroke was a Barrie firefighter; several years earlier, Tim had met the young man in a bicycle store and encouraged him to follow his dream of becoming a firefighter.

Tim taught us that life is a great adventure to be savoured. Follow your heart. Follow your head. Follow your passion. He believed in that advice, and lived it to the fullest.

John Lownsbrough is Tim's friend.

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