As William Alexander Percy said of Sewanee, “It is so beautiful that people who have once been there always, one way or another, come back.” This is the case with Tim Garner, whose stepfather’s family had a large farm in Franklin County that was lost during the Great Depression. Tim and his family moved to Chicago, where he attended school and returned to a small family farm in Midway during the summer months. Garner began washing dishes for a Chicago catering company when he was in eighth grade. He climbed the ladder there, and began cooking for the company until his graduation from high school in 1985, when he began working as the administrative assistant to the owner of the company. Throughout the earlier part of his life, he owned a liquor store and a bar, but became exhausted by the endless duties owning a business entailed. He sold the business and moved to Tullahoma with his wife and children, with no promise of a future job.
In 2006, he accepted a temporary two year job as a runner for the university as faculty support. Once this job ended in 2008, the faculty realized that Garner’s help was greatly needed. He accepted a full time position as faculty support for the 42 faculty and students in Gailor Hall. “This is like my home,” he said of Gailor. Garner helps faculty with any technical needs and problems as an administrative assistant to free up the time professors spend on these jobs. By eight every morning, he is in the building checking the printers and electronics, updating webpages, and performing any other necessary tasks for the ease of the professors’ jobs.
Many people think it’s sometimes too late to pursue your dreams, but Tim Garner is an example and an advocate that this negative assumption is far from the truth. Having never gone to college, he graduated this past December from Tennessee Technical Institute with his bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies while still working full-time in Gailor Hall. He managed to work and still achieve a 4.0 GPA. After feeling the joy of having his hard work pay off, he is now considering going back to school for his masters degree. His one piece of advice for Sewanee students and people everywhere is that if you put your mind to something, you can do it. He loves his work here at Sewanee, and he “wouldn’t trade this for anything.”