Washington, D.C. – National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons released the following statement on the loss of his father, Warner Timmons, to COVID-19:
“Our hearts were shattered last night when the patriarch of our family, Warner Timmons, died alone in a hospital. Our family is now among the hundreds of thousands of grieving families who have had a loved one suddenly and senselessly stolen by COVID-19. My mother, his wife of 66 years, was allowed to visit my father’s hospital bedside to say a final farewell the day before only because she had already recovered from the same virus. My husband, my children and I had to say our last ‘I love you’ over a computer screen.
“This hurts. It hurts in ways I never imagined. As my entire family has been, Dad had been extraordinarily careful in following CDC guidelines, even as others in public places were not. Just a couple of weeks ago, my father was perfectly healthy. With his energy and strength, you could have mistaken him for someone decades younger. He had no preexisting conditions, no serious health issues, no ‘co-morbidities.’ He bragged about not even having had a cold since 2004. That’s how powerful and virulent this virus is. It can take any of us.
“Over the years, the father–son bond between my Dad and me had gotten so much stronger. We always had a special relationship, perhaps because I am my parents’ only child. But when Rick and I had children of our own, the relationship became even more special as I watched him interact with his grandchildren—a goofy, fun, pure love that impacted them profoundly.
“I am proud and blessed to be Warner Timmons’ son. I share his name, as does my own son. I inherited his sarcastic chuckle and his devious laugh, as well as his love of practical jokes—and there has never been someone as good at them as him. His timing was perfect right until the end. He always looked out for those less fortunate and was always rooting for the underdog—traits that he impressed on me to carry with me throughout my career. He passed on his love of animals, especially rescued dogs and cats, of which there were many in our family. Dad taught me how to tie a tie perfectly as I entered the working world—a full Windsor knot with a dimple in the center, even though I was applying to work at a fast-food restaurant. He taught me to be respectful to every other human being I encountered and to always have confidence in myself. Even though he was raised in difficult economic conditions during the Great Depression, he coached me on the importance of table manners, of extending courtesy toward others and of maintaining a firm handshake. He taught me to work hard and to take pride in that work. His own work ethic was strengthened during his time in the U.S. Air Force, where he was an airman first class—and was also first chair trumpet in the Air Force Band on his last tour of duty in the former French Morocco in the 1950s. He enjoyed passing along his love of music to his grandkids. I, however, did not inherit that talent. Nor did I enjoy fishing as much as he did, but we did a lot of it when I was a kid, and his grandchildren have many fond memories of learning to fish with their beloved Granddaddy.
“This was all so preventable. For the past 10 months, I’ve tried to do everything I can personally and professionally to help save lives and livelihoods from COVID-19—to encourage Americans to do the right thing, to protect the most vulnerable, to support those on the front lines of this fight and to safeguard manufacturers in the United States. To watch others flout the guidelines even as doctors and nurses do herculean work has been frustrating. My father’s death leaves a profound sense of sadness laced with anger. The fact is that my Dad—like thousands and thousands of other Americans—would no doubt be alive if someone else had just been a little more cautious and even done something as simple and effortless as wearing a face covering. And that careless individual may have taken the virus more seriously if our national leaders had modeled appropriate behavior and done more to encourage Americans to follow those simple guidelines that would have kept our country safe. And I say all of this only in the hope that it will awaken others to the need to be more careful and more considerate of our fellow human beings.
“So this is my plea as I prepare to bury my father and comfort my mother for a life without her soulmate: wear a face covering, practice social distancing, avoid large gatherings of all types, wash your hands and always be cautious. Protect your loved ones and your neighbors. These winter months, while manufacturers produce and distribute vaccines, are the most critical yet.
“Maybe the most important thing I learned from my Dad is to never back down from a fight. So, Dad, I promise you one more time that I won’t stop now. I’ll keep fighting, in every way I can, to help others and to get our country that you loved so much to the other side of this nightmare that was so preventable. And I will hope and pray that doing so will protect other families from enduring the searing pain that we feel right now.”
The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 12.2 million men and women, contributes $2.35 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and has the largest economic multiplier of any major sector and accounts for 62% of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the NAM or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.