... in the same way most Stamps-Baxter students met Tinker - as a school greeter in the Nashville airport. His gentle manner and Southern charm welcomed and encouraged all of us as we found ourselves in the sometimes overwhelming atmosphere of shape-notes and convention singing.
When I started to work for the school, I learned that Tinker had a true servant's heart. No job was too small, too trivial, too menial. He was a silent worker, there when you needed him. And he never missed a chance to tell a good story or enjoy a good laugh.
But here's my favourite story about Tinker: My first year at Stamps-Baxter, the school held a bluegrass festival. Students were invited to join the band to sing or play a favourite song. Shaking in my sandals, I stepped up on stage with a copy of my own song, "I Call Out Your Name." I was thrilled to sing the song with a real band of real musicians. But the highlight came when I sat down in the audience. Tinker leaned over and asked if he could have a copy of my song. I was humbled and honoured that someone would like my song enough to take it home with him.
I don't know if he ever sang the song again, but that little bit of encouragement stayed with me.
This weekend, we lost Tinker. We lost an encourager, a gentle soul, a true servant.
Heaven gained a great bass singer.
We'll miss you, my friend.