Baker City woman was community activist long before term became popular
By Chris Collins
Peggi Timm, a driving force in Baker County for the last half century, died Thursday at St.Alphonus Medical Center in Baker City. She was 74.
Timm was remembered today by longtime friends, co-workers and political allies as a person of boundless energy who became a community icon.
After a lifetime of service that included a stint on the Baker City Council in the 1970s, a term as the Baker County treasurer in the 1980s and establishing the Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative in 1988, she had agreedto take on one more project earlier this year despite failing health.
In a telephone interview from her home Tuesday, Timm talked about her role in helping secure for the community an expanded and more visible campus for Blue Mountain Community College.
"What the heck is the matter with us that we can't get this done?" she asked in the straightforward manner she was known for.
Timm said she was eager to help with the effort.
"I bet I've got one more project in me if I can get really good people to help me, and I think we can do it without breaking the bank," she said.
Fred Warner Jr., Baker County Commission chair, was among those she had gathered to help with the project. Warner joined those in the community, the state and the region who mourned her death this morning.
"Peggi was a grand lady," he said. "She was passionate about life and she was passionate about Baker County."
And though he didn't always agree with her on everything, the two came to a meeting of the minds about seeking the best for Baker County, Warner said.
Timm worked on his first county commission campaign in 2002 and they had joined forces on other projects over the years, including ensuring that the Powder River Correctional Facility remained open, Warner said.
Mike Nelson, who served two terms as a state representative from Baker County in 1989 and 1991, recounted the many projects he and Timm worked on together over the years.
"The list just goes on and on," he said. "She was always utmost and foremost doing something that benefited this community and we will miss her so much."
The Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative staff and board members also were among those mourning Timm's death today.
She established the co-op with her husband, Glenn Timm, and Dick Haynes. Her husband died in October and Haynes died in December.
"It took a lot of drive to get it established and she showed a lot of leadership and determination to keep the co-op going," Jim Horan, OTEC spokesman, said today. "She continued to lead it for 25 years."
Timm stepped down from the OTEC Board in April.
In her honor, the board established the Peggi Timm Civic Leadership Award, which will present $25,000 annually to a nonprofit organization of the award winner's choice. The first award went to Dotty Miles, who chose to present the money to the Blue Mountain Community College Foundation.
Horan said Timm had continued to remain active and took on leadership roles throughout her service on the OTEC Board.
"She definitely made an impact on everyone she met."
Geri Bogart got to know Timm while driving a bus for Help Inc., the forerunner of Community Connection, in 1980, which Timm served as Baker County manager.
"She had more testosterone than any other woman I know," Bogart said. "She was dynamic. She was a pied piper."
Bogart credited Timm with developing the county's successful program for senior citizens.
"She took care of those people," she said. "She knew how to gather resources."
Her longtime friend, Kay Himmelsbach, said she had sent peaches from the Farmers Market to Timm on Wednesday and had planned to have dinner with her Thursday night.
"I'm just heartbroken," she said today. "She's my oldest friend. We've been friends since the day she moved to Baker."
Both women were from the South and they shared common political views.
They enjoyed bantering back and forth and attended state Democratic meetings and conventions together over the years.
Himmelsbach said Timm, was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer in January, but she was determined to remain as active as possible.
"She just kept on being Peggi," she said.
Himmelsbach, who's 80, said the two women were more like family than friends.
"I will miss her every day for the rest of my life," she said. "There is nothing I wouldn't have done for her and nothing she wouldn't have done for me."