Written by Kaitlin Hill | Photos courtesy of Sprout Therapeutic Riding & Educational Center
In his final interview for Sprout Therapeutic Riding & Educational Center, Tim Mooney said, “Courage and kindness will change the world. It certainly changes the world here at Sprout for the people that come to us. And there is courage like I have never seen before, and there is kindness around every corner.” Mooney, who passed away on July 9, 2023, was the embodiment of both courage and kindness, and so much more. After being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in January, he succumbed to the disease bravely and peacefully surrounded by friends and family. In his honor, we asked those who knew him to share their memories of him. Unsurprisingly, the tributes poured in.
As the director of philanthropy for Sprout Therapeutic Riding & Educational Center, Mooney touched countless lives of both the center’s patrons but also its staff. Brooke Waldron, Sprout’s founder and executive director, writes, “Tim joined the team at Sprout in 2020 and quickly became an essential member of our family. As the first director of philanthropy, he pulled Sprout through the pandemic, led the celebration of our 10th anniversary, and spurred us into our next decade of growth.” She continues, “Over the years, Tim made what we never thought was possible happen for Sprout. And we will be forever grateful for who he was.”
And of his character she shares, “He was thoughtful. He knew everyone’s birthday, loved to celebrate each holiday by making it special, and was quick to send a card, flowers, dinner, cupcakes, or a bottle of wine to his friends when they needed it. … He always knew the right inspirational quote, joke, or one-liner to garner a smile, a laugh, or an attitude adjustment. He was a true friend to everyone. All of the time. He showed us how to live, how to work, and most importantly, how to love. We will miss his vibrant presence but we know his spirit will remain with us forever.”
Passion for Sprout
Susan Fitzgerald, a longtime friend and Sprout Board of Directors chair, remembers Mooney’s initial connection to and enduring passion for Sprout. “In September 2019, Tim came to his first Sprout gala as our guest and he met Brooke and this loving community. At that time, Tim was working as the director of development for JUST TRYAN IT and the next month we went to their 10-year anniversary celebration to support Tim. As always, he was gracious in listening to my inquiries about potential caterers and development approaches for Sprout, and took time to share his insights and recommendations.”
She continues, “In January 2020, Gary and I invited Tim to dinner to share more information and discuss the mission and work of Sprout and a potential offer for a new position. He was interested in learning more and continuing our conversation about the potential opportunity and as he said, the ‘specific needs Brooke has to insure the growth, evolution, and success of Sprout and the life-changing programs that they offer to those they serve.’ He told me later that he made up his mind that evening — it sounded like a perfect fit for him. In February 2020, he accepted the new full-time position as the director of philanthropy.
“What I did not know is how perfect of a fit it would actually be. Tim fell in love with the Sprout community, and, of course, they with him.
“He often said that the last three years of his life at Sprout were his absolute best years. [During] a recent visit, Tim said he [was] not afraid of dying because he knows where he is going. He was just going to miss all of us so dearly as we’ve had absolutely so much fun. Sprout was his heaven on earth and I am thankful and blessed that God brought him into our lives.”
Lynn Bronson, a Sprout coworker, fondly recalls the many “Tim-isms” Mooney was known for around the office:
“He’d start all his emails with, ‘Hello my friend,’ and end his emails with, ‘Love you to the moon and back … twice.’
“When he was grateful he’d say, ‘Please know when I count the amazing blessings in my life, and there are many, I count you at least 12 times,’ or, ‘God smiled the day you walked into Sprout … and each day you return.’
“When work got crazy and voicemails piled up he’d say, ‘Apparently, someone left me a message as long as the Gettysburg address.’
“In difficult situations he’d say, ‘As my dearly departed grandfather used to say … “never fight with a pig; you both end up getting dirty and the pig is having fun.”’
“If he happened to forget something he’d say, ‘As my dearly departed mother used to say … “of all the things I have lost, I miss my mind the most.”’
“And who hasn’t heard this one at least a dozen times or more: ‘I love you like a cop loves donuts,’ and boy did Tim love donuts!”
Of the many things Mooney was to the many people that knew him, Nancy Davidson, a Sprout coworker, remembers what a fantastic storyteller he was. She writes, “Tim was a true Irishman — he was funny, he was a gentleman, he was generous, he was the best the Irish have to offer. But the most defining Irish thing about him was that he told a good story.” She continues, “At first blush it might appear Tim’s story at Sprout ended too soon. But he wove together everyone in this room through the stories he told, the stories of his life and the stories he was creating through his observations at Sprout. There are some people who live on top of their jobs. Then there was Tim; he lived into his job, it infused every fiber of his being. He worked seven days a week, always thinking of ways to increase Sprout’s visibility in the community. He would watch riders from that ledge up there and always afterward he would say, ‘It’s magic.’
“Sprout is an extraordinary place. Tim told the story of Sprout well, because he saturated himself into our community. His story was as authentic and genuine as he was. Sprout is a community of riders, families, volunteers, horses, donors, guests, barn cats, and service dogs — all of our stories join together to create the heart of Sprout on a daily basis. Tim knew this.”
His Legacy Lives On
When those we care about leave us, what remains? In his poem, “Death Is Nothing At All,” Henry Scott Holland argues that nothing should change, and that loved ones lost are simply out of sight.
Death is nothing at all.
I have only slipped away to the next room.
I am I and you are you.
Whatever we were to each other,
That, we still are.
For those who knew Mooney well, benefitted from his work, or even just crossed his path, he is still and will always be Tim Mooney: friend, brother, coworker, optimist, and ardent supporter of Sprout’s life-changing work. In his wake, he leaves a legacy of kindness, courage, and compassion, and an example of an extraordinary life well lived. ML
For more memories of Tim Mooney visit MiddleburgLife.com.
Published in the September 2023 issue of Middleburg Life.