Tiffin’s Creative Centre recently donated more than $1,100 to Lighthouse Christian Ministries toward the ‘Building Hope’ project, a proposed shelter that will serve men, women, families, and individuals with mental health issues. The donation represents the proceeds from a summer art tour rally and a draw for three die-cast models.
‘Building Hope’ project in Orillia gets $1,100 donation Frank Matys Pictured with Linda Tiffin (right) is Linda Goodall, executive director of The Lighthouse Soup Kitchen and Shelter.
The community has lost a favourite son, one who dedicated his life to the less fortunate.
Lighthouse Christian Ministries executive manager Tim Tanton died Friday at Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital while undergoing kidney dialysis, according to past Lighthouse board chair Bruce Thompson.
“His heart just gave out,” Thompson said, noting Tanton had suffered from a range of ailments over the years.
“He had so many things wrong with him for a good many years. His health has just been deteriorating.”
But despite those kinds of setbacks, Thompson said, Tanton never lost sight of trying to help others and was instrumental in leading the Lighthouse over the years, having been appointed managing director in 2002 after serving in a variety of other positions with the charity for the previous four or so years.
“The greatest legacy is to carry on in his honour,” Thompson said, noting the Lighthouse remains open, but will close Thursday afternoon for Tanton’s funeral service at 3 p.m. at the Simcoe Funeral Home, which will be preceded by visitation at 1 p.m.
Tanton, who was 54, leaves behind his wife, Teresa (nee Link), and children, Dennis, Sara (Richard Ulrick) and Amy, all of Orillia.
When asked what Tanton meant to the city, Thompson answered with a question: “Have you got a couple of hours?”
Tanton, who was born in Strathroy and moved to Orillia in 1997, always went out of his way to help anybody who entered the Lighthouse, often getting a sandwich to somebody who was hungry but had missed mealtime, or ensuring they had a place to stay, Thompson noted.
“He always treated people with dignity and respect,” he said. “He did everything possible for everyone who passed through the Lighthouse door. I think that was the trademark of Tim’s ministry.”
Linda Goodall, who crossed paths with Tanton while working at the Salvation Army and, years later, as co-director of the Coldest Night of the Year campaign, said Tanton made a significant impact.
“He put his heart and soul into the Lighthouse,” she said. “Tim’s heart was for helping people. He was trying to get them to resources to help get them out of their situation.”
Tanton was presented with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal during Orillia’s Canada Day festivities in 2013 for his “commitment and dedication to community and country.”
Mayor Steve Clarke said he met Tanton a few times and always found him to be gracious and generous.
“What a huge loss for the community,” Clarke said. “Those will be hard shoes to fill. Our hearts go out to his family and friends.”
Dave Hewitt worked closely with Tanton as part of his role with the hospital’s Key Program.
“He treated people with respect and would always start off by asking, ‘How can we help?'” Hewitt recalled.
“Tim would always listen quietly to people’s stories, stories that were often complex, then offer simple direction and support, reassuring the person they were loved, had a place to stay and food to eat.
“He gave people socks, hats, boots, whatever was needed — and he did it quickly, without judgment.”
Tanton was also a major proponent of the Lighthouse’s Building Hope project, a venture to construct a new co-ed facility to help the homeless in Orillia.
And even though the Lighthouse doesn’t have a women’s shelter in its current format, Thompson said, Tanton always tried to help women who were looking for a place to stay.
“He’d often arrange for bus fare out of his own pocket and call ahead to the shelter in Barrie,” Thompson said, adding Tanton would also aid those trying to get back home to the west or east coasts by calling Salvation Army shelters along the person’s route to ensure there was space.
Current Lighthouse board chair Glenn Wagner said Tanton always put others before himself, even in the face of his own struggles.
“He was an example of true servant leadership and was an inspiration to many in and around Orillia,” he said. “He has left a great legacy that I hope and trust will continue.”
Hewitt said Tanton took his Christian faith seriously.
“He was a spiritual man,” he said. “I often could hear him praying for guidance in difficult situations.”
Online condolences left on the funeral home’s website echo many of the aforementioned remarks, with Tony Bianco stating: “It has been an honour to serve with Tim. I’ve never known anyone with a bigger heart for people than Tim Tanton. He lived a life well spent.”
Added John Atkinson Jr.: “So wonderful to have served beside a man with a heart for the needy and strong love for family. You will be missed, God bless.”