On the floor of her home in Buckley, Anna McCoy created collages with photos of her husband.
On one poster, Tim McCoy stands in his uniform with his fellow firefighters. On another, he’s riding his dirt bike. A third board is split in half, one side for hunting and the other for fishing. In one picture, McCoy holds a giant fish in his hands.
Each poster board represented a side of Tim, an East Pierce Fire & Rescue captain who passed away in October from a fatal dirt bike crash in Bonney Lake at the age of 59.
“Everything he did, he did with gusto,” said Joshua, Tim’s son. “He loved a challenge. Life was full of color for him.”
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Anyone that really knew him would say his family was his life. Being a firefighter was his job, but his family was his life. He was our protector.
Anna McCoy, Tim McCoy’s wife of 30 years
While many knew Tim as a firefighter, his close friends and family knew him as even more: someone who loved to make cakes. A dirt bike rider and a fisherman. A hunter. A 10-year member of the Bonney Lake Community Church. A well-loved husband, father and foster parent.
“Anyone that really knew him would say his family was his life,” said Anna, who had been married to Tim for 30 years. “Being a firefighter was his job, but his family was his life. He was our protector.”
Anna and Tim met through church. After marrying, they honeymooned in Hawaii, where Anna recalled Tim bodysurfing in the ocean — an activity that was recommended for experts. Joshua remembers hearing the story and thinking it was just like his father to try new things.
“There was a sign (on the beach) that said ‘Experts Only,’” Joshua said. “In (Tim’s) mind, it said ‘Experts and McCoys.’”
In 2005, Anna and Tim moved to their home in Buckley. Tim built the barn and playhouse himself. They had three kids: Joshua (28), Emily (25) and Alise (23). But Tim had more love to give, said his family.
Over the course of their marriage, Tim and Anna have helped dozens of foster kids, some of them staying in their home with them for several years.
“It was amazing to watch him take them under his wing,” Joshua said. “He had too much love to keep to himself. He had enough for everyone.”
As a family, the McCoys took camping trips to the Oregon coast for the past 10 years. There, a tradition was to build sand sculptures — no matter how difficult.
“Everything he started, he finished. He saw it through,” Joshua said. “He didn’t mind sitting on the dunes and watching the tides wash (the sand sculptures) all away.”
The memory is one that sticks out for Joshua, who says that it shows the end result never mattered to Tim — it was the journey.
I don’t have any bitterness (toward riding). He was happy doing it.
Joshua McCoy, Tim McCoy’s son
A love for riding dirt bikes was fostered in Tim from a young age, and stayed there. Joshua recalls his father telling him about riding down the street with his brothers, standing up on their bikes.
“They were the best of friends,” Joshua said about Tim and his two brothers. “They grew up on motorcycles.”
Tim started racing dirt bikes competitively in the 1980s and most recently won the Desert 100 in the 50-plus class. While he won many awards over the years, Tim never kept all of his trophies. Instead, he used them for one of Joshua’s birthday parties, stripping off the placards and renaming them to give to the kids there.
“He loved to race and loved to do well but the trophies he’d gotten rid of,” Joshua said. “It wasn’t the trophies that mattered.”
After the accident that took his life, Joshua says he looks at dirt biking as something his father loved.
I don’t have any bitterness (toward riding),” Joshua said about his father’s accident. “He was happy doing it.”
He was proud to be a firefighter and he was proud to serve his community that way. He strove for excellence but he strove for fun, too. He loved life and he lived it creatively.
Tim planned to retire in June after 29 years with East Pierce Fire & Rescue. After, he wanted to travel.
“He was so excited about retirement and all the things we wanted to do,” Anna said.
Now, Tim’s family relives his memory through photographs and each other. The posters they made were displayed at Tim’s memorial service on Saturday at Lighthouse Christian Center in Puyallup, where more than 700 people attended. McCoy’s reception was at Kelly Farm in Bonney Lake.
“He was proud to be a firefighter and he was proud to serve his community that way,” Joshua said. “He strove for excellence but he strove for fun, too. He loved life and he lived it creatively.”