Over and over, family and friends use the same phrase to describe Tim Nettles, and it may be the ultimate compliment: He cared for people.
Like the waitress he left a $10 tip after one of his first dates with his future wife, when he could barely scrape together $30 for the dinner.
Or the staff at Atria’s Restaurant and Tavern in Peters, where he was an investor, regular patron and confidant for staff and other diners, the guy who if he was with a large group of people always made sure to leave extra tip money for the staff.
Or extended family at the annual Christmas gathering at a farm near Johnstown, where he always made sure guests had a present even if they showed up unexpectedly as a date or friend of his second cousin’s son.
Or serving as a board member for the Urban League of Pittsburgh, where it wasn’t unusual for him to write a big check for the agency’s annual Thanksgiving event one day and the next go to a discount store to buy extra aluminum serving pans to make sure workers had enough supplies.
“My dad was the most inclusive person I’ve ever met,” said his son, Chuck, of Peters. “He just cared for everybody he came in contact with.”
Mr. Nettles, of Peters, a retired Enterprise Rent-A-Car executive, died in his sleep Friday. He was 61.
Urban League President Esther Bush said she measures board members by the three Ts: time, treasure and talent. Mr. Nettles hit a home run on all three, she said, and after serving on the program and development committees for many years, he received the special honor of being named an honorary board member.
“He would give all three,” Ms. Bush said. “He lived his values. It’s a great loss for this community, someone with a heart that big. He was absolutely stellar.”
When new Enterprise executives would transfer to the Pittsburgh area, he would encourage them to get involved with the Urban League, Ms. Bush said. He went out of his way to bring his Enterprise replacement to an Urban League meeting when he retired in 2014.
At Atria’s, owner Linda Sam said she initially knew Mr. Nettles as an investor when the restaurant opened 14 years ago. But because he and his family were regular patrons — sometimes five times a week — their families also became close and he regularly interacted with restaurant staff.
“He came because it was home,” Ms. Sam said. “We were a natural part of his day.”
When he was at the restaurant, Mr. Nettles always had people visiting his table whether it was staff or other patrons seeking his advice or guidance.
“He grew people,” Ms. Sam said. “Very quietly and anonymously, he would help people. He wouldn’t tell you what to do, but he would lead you to the right place.”
Ms. Sam recommended Mr. Nettles as a member of The Good Guys, an invitation-only group of South Hills men coordinated by writer Jim O’Brien that meets monthly at Atria’s.
“I’ve only known him for two years, but he was an instantly likable guy,” Mr. O’Brien said, remembering one meeting where Mr. Nettles won the 50-50 raffle and immediately donated the money to Guardian Angels, a service dog organization The Good Guys supports.
“We try to do some good for the community. He just did that naturally,” Mr. O’Brien said.
After being born in Johnstown, Mr. Nettles’ family moved to Tampa, where his father lived next to and worked for a golf course, setting the path for the family’s involvement with the sport. Mr. Nettles played some himself, but not very well, and when he moved to Pittsburgh and began a family he became mostly a spectator while his sons Chuck and Tom learned the game.
They learned well and their parents followed them throughout the country as they played in junior, high school and later college tournaments with Ohio University, where Tom still plays.
“Some people get a bond with their dad by playing golf with him. We had it in a different way,” Chuck Nettles said. “Dad was more interested in watching us play. His travel schedule was our junior golf, our high school golf, our college golf. He never missed a match.”
On the weekends, the boys typically were by their father’s side helping with chores such as cleaning the hot tub or pool, reorganizing the garage or cleaning ice off the coils of a cooler in his prized Coca-Cola-themed bar.
“We were always glued to our dad’s side,” Chuck Nettles said. “Our friends knew if you came over to the house to hang out, you were put to work.”
Mr. Nettles retired early so he could travel with his wife, Diane, an elementary education professor at California University of Pennsylvania.
“For a few years, they did a darn good job,” Chuck Nettles said. “He just adored my mother.”
Over the years, Mr. Nettles joined several relief trips to Jamaica, where he often became friends with the families he helped. It became a family routine to pack up outgrown golf shirts and other clothing and send them to the island and pleased Mr. Nettles to no end when they would receive family photos with people wearing the items they sent.
Chuck Nettles said his father couldn’t stand to see rooms with bare walls and hours before he died he brought dinner to his son’s new house so he could help hang photos and play with his 2-year-old granddaughter, Charlotte. He was sitting on the floor singing her songs and playing with her hair when she fell asleep but every time he stopped she’d open her eyes and say, “Hair, Pap-pap.”
Mr. Nettles also is survived by his parents, Don and Helen Nettles of Tampa, and one sister, Susan Miller of Jacksonville, Fla.
Visitation is from 2 until 8 p.m. Tuesday at Beinhauers, 2828 Washington Road, McMurray. A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Center Presbyterian Church, McMurray, followed by a luncheon at Atria’s.
The family suggests contributions to the scholarship fund at the Western Pennsylvania Golf Association, where he was a board member, 930 N. Lincoln Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15233.
Original story available here: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/south/2018/02/20/obituary-Tim-Nettles-Peters-Township-caring-Atrias-Enterprise-Urban-League/stories/201802190121