ADAMS: Tim Kays’ legacy lives on through scholarship |

ADAMS: Tim Kays’ legacy lives on through scholarship

Ah, but it is such a rich story. A man for all seasons. A winner for many reasons. The Man of the Hour for now. A legacy that lives forever.

So it goes for a gentleman named Tim Kays. He is an uncommon person to some and a household name to others. It just depends…..

Maybe it is best here to start at the end and move backwards.

Kays passed on November 3, 2013 in Grass Valley. He was survived by wife, Connie, and five offspring. His loss, at the time, left a major void in the community. This was because he was involved in so many things. He worked with many students during a brilliant tenure at Nevada Union. He stood aside the late Albert Ali to make Saturday’s Open Gym a reality many moons ago.

For the record, he taught at Nevada Union for a whopping 38 years. Kays started coaching football and then moved on cross country, track, and basketball. He spearheaded basketball’s annual Nevada Union Invitational Tournament. He participated in youth leagues. Kays ran marathons including “Bay to Breakers.” Sports was a major part of his life. Student development was even larger.

When his focus was not on basketball, it was cross country and track that filled his high school agenda. Although he taught history and physical education, it was the foundation of sports that really became his by-line. He was a champion of students. Those he touched never forgot him. He put an inordinate amount of energy into making the high school days of students at Nevada Union truly meaningful. Kays was an expert at making students involved in sports learn more about life and character than competition. Tim treated all with respect and worth. He was known as an incredible community man. Along the way, his successes were truly noteworthy.

He was also an amazing family man. His three daughters and two sons raved about his fatherhood. They spoke passionately about his sacrifices and quest for excellence. His footprint on students was extraordinary. However, he also was a devoted Christian man who focused on supporting an outstanding family.

When daughter Tammy Smith ran the track on her 50th birthday, Tim was by her side. Although by this time his body was ailing, he discovered the strength to honor his daughter. Tammy remarked, “He was a wonderful dad. Caring. Loving. Humble. Honest. He was my favorite running partner. He was my reason for running. When he stopped running, I did too.”

His wife Connie lives today in a modest Grass Valley home, the same residence they held together for decades. She added, “He was the most trustworthy man I knew. He was a good husband and provider. He was good to me. Tim was easy to love for who he was.”

Tim Kay’s life was not easy growing up. He had a fair share of challenges. For the normal person, it may have been overwhelming. It might have left one tainted and sour. However, Tim saw it as a call to action. He strived, even against certain odds, to take a more positive course. He desired to make something of himself. Along the way, he had the special talent to touch many in our community.

In his honor, the family started the Tim Kays Memorial Scholarship. Annually, it has consisted of two $500 scholarships. One goes to a female and the other to a male athlete. There are hopes it will be expanded. Here is the twist. It is not earmarked for the very best competitor, but rather the students with good character who make valuable team contributions away from the sports venue. It is unique, even refreshing. However, it is in standing with the man he was and the virtues he held close to his heart. It is all designed with keeping his legacy alive and vibrant.

To some, Tim Kays is a stranger. However, to others he was a big part of their high school academic careers…a man who truly made the difference. To all, an educator, family man, and athlete who helped to make our community a great place to live.

Check out the scholarship Facebook Page at Checks in Tim’s honor should go to Barbara Ross, NJUHSD, 11645 Ridge Road, Grass Valley, Ca 95945.

Jim Adams is a regular contributor to The Union. He can be reached at

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