Forester’s Falls – A solitary tractor stood guard outside the cemetery not far from Tim Tabbert’s farm on the Queen’s Line as a reminder of a man with a deep love for farming, passion for karaoke, a penchant for old tractors and an irrepressible twinkle in his eye.
“He was known as the singing farmer,” his cousin Christine Tabbert said while delivering his eulogy at the cemetery on Monday morning. “He loved karaoke. He loved the attention and the music.”
Mr. Tabbert, 62, passed away on July 6 at Renfrew Victoria Hospital with family by his side. He had been diagnosed two months before with Glioblastoma, the same brain tumour which took the life of many others before him including Canadian singer Gord Downie.
Born and raised in the farming community, he was the eldest son of five and came from a large extended family, including 33 first cousins.
“The values Tim learned on a farm growing up lasted a lifetime,” Christine said.
As an adult he moved into the Broome homestead of his maternal ancestors and farmed there. He also did custom fieldwork and had a business spreading liquid manure.
“Tim became known up and down the Valley for his hard work and his antics,” she said.
He was also a man of faith, who could be heard telling others “the Lord will provide” when there were the farming concerns of too little rain, too much rain and other issues.
A father of three, she said her cousin showed his love and affection through action and service. He was the dad who would make the ice on the rink at Queen’s Line and took great pride in the quality of the ice and making sure there was a fire for the children to warm up to. After this he also made sure there was a rink at the farm for them too, she added.
Readers of the Leader and the Cobden Sun are familiar with the by-line of Connie Tabbert, who married Tim in 2008 and the two have been inseparable since. Their love was so strong Connie gave up most of her journalistic efforts for farming and milking, joining her husband in his farming life and passion for farming issues. Their love story and wedding in which the happy couple left on one of Tim’s tractors – he had 13 – still captivated the imagination of those who were at the event many years later. They were both deeply involved in the National Farmers Union (NFU) where Tim served in executive positions as director, vice president and president of the local branch as well as regional director and was active at provincial and national conventions.
“He loved going to protests in Ottawa with his manure truck or one of his tractors,” Christine recalled.
One time he filled the manure spreader with water and close to Parliament Hill decided to spread the water. Unbeknownst to him, a police officer was right behind him and it appears Mr. Tabbert did not do a complete job of cleaning out the manure spreader before filling it with water, so the officer was showered with a smelly liquid. The officer started writing up every ticket he could think of, only to be told by his commanding officer no tickets were to be given to protestors.
Known for his white “Santa Claus” beard, he shaved it off for Hospice Renfrew and raised $270 in the proceeds. He was also known for his smoked sausage and loved making it with extended family using the traditional recipe.
His local NFU colleagues recalled a sharp, quick-witted man who was a loyal member and passionate about farming issues.
Lauretta Rice pointed out since Mr. Tabbert grew up on a dairy farm and then raised beef cattle he had a good understanding of various aspects of farming. She also laughed as she recalled his spirit of fun.
“He was always playing tricks,” she said. “He was the joy of the national convention every year. He was up till 4 o’clock having fun and up again at 7.”
She also pointed out she never heard him say a derogatory word about anyone. “He was complementary regardless of who you were,” she said.
Marshall Buchanan, the president of the local NFU chapter, said he appreciated while Mr. Tabbert was a committed farmer, he never let his business take over his life.
“Tim learned he wanted to make a success with his relationship with his friends,” he said. “He spent a lot of time supporting his friends.”
Despite strong opinions, Mr. Tabbert never lost his temper at meetings, he said.
“He would deliver his opinions carefully,” he said. “He did not lecture you. He had dignity in the way he conducted himself.”
He is survived by his wife Connie, children, Christopher (Amy), Amanda (Alain) and Shaun and grandchildren, Henry and Veronica, as well as his mother, Eleanor and siblings, Terry (Jennifer), Bonnie (Kent), Danny (Lynda) and Linda (Vivian) and many nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles and cousins.
Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader