JACKSON, Tenn. (AP) — Over the years, Tim Coats has become sort of a Jackson icon, waving from his gazebo at everyone who passes by the corner of University Parkway and Highland Avenue, also known as "Tim's Corner."

Tim has been putting in nearly eight hours a day — except when the St. Louis Cardinals are playing that is — waving and smiling at everyone from his corner. He's made many friends and become a beloved neighbor in Jackson — but he will soon be leaving the Hub City, and moving to Florida to live with his sister.

"We are going to miss him so much," longtime friend Melissa Matthews said at his farewell party Thursday. "I love him; I love what he has done."

Eleven years ago, Matthews and her husband met Tim as they were riding by on their motorcycles. Tim began blowing kisses to Matthews and it just became their thing, she said, joking that he's like her boyfriend.

Matthews and her husband own several kinds of motorcycles — and Tim knows about every one of them, she noted.

"Obviously, Tim is an icon in our community," Matthews said. "He creates a certain stability and he unites us as a community."


When Tim first moved to Jackson with his mother, she had terminal cancer. When she was in the hospital, he would sit outside underneath a tree, and just started waving at people to pass the time.

The waving progressed into practically a full-time job. When the 2008 tornado hit, Tim's shade tree was blown down.

But the community rallied, and his church, Campbell Street Church of Christ, made a concrete slab in the same spot, and Brookdale Jackson Oaks provided the gazebo so he would have a new place to wave.

"He's an inspiration to the city with his warm smile and his wave to the traffic," Business Development Coordinator at Brookdale Jackson Oaks Cassie Duggin said. "I can even remember myself as a little girl, in the backseat of my parents' car, honking and waving at him."

Like Duggin, a lot of people have grown up seeing Tim waving on his corner — so it is bittersweet to see him go.

Tim's soon-to-be new home in Oviedo, Florida, is on a corner lot, perfect for waving, his older sister Brenda Downing said.

"He'll make friends real soon; he's a happy person," Downing said.

All in all Tim is ready to move to the Sunshine State, even though he will miss all his Jackson friends, Downing said as he nodded in agreement.

Tim might be waving from another state, but that corner will always be known as "Tim's Corner."

"We just appreciate the community being supportive of Tim," Downing said. "We're just very blessed to have so many friends."


Information from: The Jackson Sun, http://www.jacksonsun.com