Tim Croley, loving father, husband, son, brother, uncle, and beloved friend, passed away on May 20th surrounded by loved ones. He was 49 years old.
Born on November 1st, 1971, in Corbin, Kentucky, to Ray and Myong-Cha Croley, Tim was an inquisitive and fastidious boy, traits that he carried his whole life that steered him toward a life dedicated to science, the advancement of knowledge, and public service. Despite his formidable intellect Tim was not studious. The strictures of school seemed to confound him. His mind worked more like that of an artist—free ranging, rambling, searching for disparate points of connection—and traditional instruction did not serve him well. When a 10th grade math teacher told him she didn’t think he could pass her class, he buckled down and received an A more as an act of defiance than in an effort prove anything to her. Tim’s fiery spirit and competitiveness were his most demonstrable qualities, and he used his considerable reserves of both to fuel him in everything he pursued from his profession to his athletic endeavors, particularly golf and basketball. He was a beautiful player on the court, skilled with an endless variety of feints and jabs and ball handling mastery that left even superior athletes in their tracks. Tim’s deep range from three made him difficult to defend, forcing opponents to check him tight, where he could then use a flurry dribbles and fakes to drive past them for an easy layup or no-look pass. Well into his forties, the drive to win he possessed as a boy never left him and, in fact, may have hardened, causing bemusement to his friends and family as well as admiration. On the golf course, Tim’s athleticism manifested itself in a long, powerful swing that launched the ball with screaming velocity that he then ratcheted down to a velvet touch (his words) around the green.
Possessing an uncommon charisma, Tim left a wide trail of close friends in the many places he lived. After graduating from the University of Kentucky, Tim earned a Ph.D. in analytical chemistry from Mississippi State University when he was just 26 years old. Working in the important specialty field of mass spectrometry, he was an active leader in the American Society for Mass Spectrometry and was well-known in the field, authoring or co‐authoring more than 60 publications. He left Starkville for a post-doctoral fellowship at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario and from there he moved to Little Rock, Arkansas where he worked in the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock. Tim spent his mornings in Little Rock whittling down his golf handicap, his afternoons studying the effects of methamphetamine, and his evenings playing softball. Tim’s twin pursuits in life were knowledge and sports, and he applied his appetite for winning to his intellectual inquiries and brought his smarts and sensitivity to understanding and excelling at the sports he played. And while he is remembered as an intense competitor among his friends, family, and coworkers, he was also known for his exceeding charm and wit, his ability to give friends devastating nicknames that cut them down to size, his abiding sense of fairness, professionally and personally.
On September 6, 2001, Tim took a job with the state government of Virginia as Lead Scientist, Special Projects and Chemical Terrorism. In the days that followed after 9/11, he played a prominent role in creating applications and procedures to both identify and prepare the commonwealth for potential terrorist attacks. It was also while living in Richmond he met the love of his life, Callie. They were married in 2004 and in the winter of 2006, they welcomed their first son, Cooper Ray, to their family to be followed by a second son, Davis Vance, in the summer of 2009. Of the many achievements in his remarkable—and all too short—life nothing pleased or brought him greater joy than his marriage to Callie and the raising of his two sons. He often remarked, “The greatest thing I ever did was marry Callie and have Cooper and Davis.” His family was his greatest pride.
The last ten years of his life were spent in Severna Park, Maryland, where he became a fixture at a local gym, playing pick-up basketball, as well as coaching his sons. His summers, as always, were spent on golf courses both near and far with annual trips to Pinehurst, North Carolina where he was joined by his brother, Mike, and their friends Rob and Skip, and a rotating cast of characters who were constantly entertained by his deep repertoire of stories. In everything Tim did, he brought to bear a precision and methodology from how best to solve problems in his lab, to checking with Callie if the four brightly colored outfits he picked for Pinehurst all matched and were stylish. At the annual convention of his field of study, scientists throughout the country sought him out for counsel, jokes, good cheer, and stories that lasted deep into the night. In a world short on renaissance men, Tim cared deeply about sports, politics, science, and art. He was especially committed in the last five years at his job with the Food and Drug Administration to issues of equality, particularly, for women pursuing careers in science within the organization, ensuring they were given opportunities for advancement.
One of the particularly cruel twists of fate for Tim when he was diagnosed with cancer in 2018 was that he had just whittled his handicap back down to a 7 and had purchased a new set of clubs. He would swing them for fewer rounds than he hoped as he increasingly became sicker. Cancer also stole his weekly basketball games, but not his ability to coach Cooper and his 12-year-old boys’ team to an undefeated season. The last year of his life was filled with far too many hospital visits, but the pandemic allowed Tim the precious time he craved with his family. One of the highlights of those days were his daily walks with Davis.
On each hospital visit he always rallied, determined to get better, believing a drug would be created that could give him more time with Callie, his boys, his friends. To the very end his family was his tether to this world, this life where he could shoot a deep three, walk a golf course in the fading sun, hold his boys in his arms, kiss his wife goodnight.
A memorial visitation will be held on Thursday, June 3, 2021 from 5:00pm to 8:30pm at Barranco Severna Park Funeral Home & Cremation Care, P.A., 495 Ritchie Hwy, Severna Park, MD, 21146.
A GoFundMe page has been established for Cooper and Davis’s college education at: https://gofund.me/6f8ffd61
Electronic condolences and life tributes may be sent to the family at firstname.lastname@example.org