When you're in your 80s and walk with crutches, it might be easy to sit back and let others do the helping. But that's never been Mary Timm's way.
GIBSON CITY — When you're in your 80s and walk with crutches, it might be easy to sit back and let others do the helping. But that's never been Mary Timm's way.
The 88-year-old Gibson City grandma, former model and city official has a long track record of doing for others, and on Wednesday evening, she'll be honored for her life of public service when she is presented with one of five Women of Distinction awards by the Girl Scouts of Central Illinois.
The Girl Scouts select outstanding female leaders from Champaign, Douglas, Ford, Iroquois and Vermilion counties.
Some of the ways Timm has been — and still is — a generous giver of her time:
— She has knitted 580 tiny hats for newborn babies and crocheted blankets to be given away at Gibson Area Hospital, and made lap robes to go to area nursing-home residents.
— She was city treasurer for seven years, served as an alderwoman and is still chairwoman of the city planning commission, a position she's held for 17 years.
— She mentored kids in the local school system and was a scout leader for her daughters' troops and a den mother for her sons.
— She remains an active member of the local hospital auxiliary (and was its volunteer of the year in 2012 and 2013) and serves on the board of Telecare, a local nonprofit organization that provides transportation and other services for seniors.
— She has done work for the Moose Club, American Legion, Red Cross and local women's club, and taught Sunday school for her local Lutheran church for 53 years.
"It's a wonderful place to live," she says of Gibson City. "And that's the way I was brought up. You do for others as well as yourself."
Timm was born and raised on a Wisconsin dairy farm and moved to Milwaukee after high school. She went to work as a store model and modeling school teacher, met her husband, Eugene, and they got married two years later. The couple made their home in Gibson City in 1957, and they still live in the home in which they raised their children.
Three of their surviving four children live in Gibson City, and they have 13 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren — and Timm says she sees all of them "as often as I can."
In addition to work for Gibson City, Timm also worked as an office manager for a grocery store, and in 1980 opened her own clothing store downtown called Cary L.
In 1985, she was injured in a golf cart accident that has left her needing crutches to walk, she says.
Her more limited ability to get around has kept her home more in recent years, Timm says, but she stays busy.
"Anything I can do sitting, make phone calls, I do," she says.
Her advice to others is simply to look around at what you can do, because there's always a need. And don't wait for somebody to ask you.
"I just don't waste time," Timm says. "We weren't given time to waste."