A two-year battle with lung cancer and bouts in and out of the hospital finally took their toll on Kerr County Judge Pat Tinley who died Tuesday morning.
Tinley had filed late last year to seek a fourth term as county judge. Despite his failing health, son Patrick Tinley said the family had hopes right up to the end that his father would win against the disease, which took Pat Tinley’s wife three years earlier.
“We had all hopes and dreams that he would beat it, but cancer is a life-sucking force that drains everyone,” Patrick Tinley Jr. said.
Pat Tinley, 72, was born in Council Bluffs, Iowa, and moved with his family to Denver City, Texas, when he was 8 years old. He graduated valedictorian from Denver City High School and went on to earn degrees from what was then West Texas State University and the University of Texas Law School.
Tinley began his 40-year law practice in Denver City but moved to Kerr County when he was still a young man.
“He use to come to camp here when he was a kid,” Patrick Tinley Jr. said. Sometimes, it’s hard to get out of the shadow of your dad. There were only two physicians there (in Denver City), and he was always known as Doc Tinley’s boy,”
Pat Tinley married Betsy Tinley in 1985 and soon became his legal secretary in his law office. Together, they six children and 12 grandchildren.
In addition to a law career, Pat Tinley served 25 years in the U.S. Army and Texas National Guard and was a life-long supporter of veterans.
Patrick Tinley Jr. said his father decided to run for county judge in 2002, because he wanted to see things done differently and because he wanted to give back to the community.
“He really enjoyed it,” Patrick Tinley Jr. said. “And he’s the first county judge to be re-elected to that position in a quarter of a century.”
Pat Tinley ran unopposed for re-election at the end of his last term and filed to run in the Republican Party primary election in March. But Patrick Tinley Jr. said his father’s failing health led Pat Tinley to meet last week with local attorney Tom Pollard, who also filed to seek the Republican Party nomination for county judge.
According to Patrick Tinley Jr., his father planned to release a joint statement with Pollard announcing that he would withdraw because of his health and planned to endorse Pollard over local banker Bob Waller, who also is seeking the party nomination.
Commissioner H.A. “Buster” Baldwin, who is the longest serving county commissioner and has filled in running commissioners’ meetings in Tinley’s absence, said it is too soon to tell what action, if any, will be taken. He said commissioners haven’t discussed it yet but could elect someone to fill the unexpired term until next January or could continue running as things have been for the past couple of months.
Baldwin, who served with Tinley since he was elected county judge, called it a “dark day” for Kerr County.
“Pat Tinley was not only a man of integrity, but he was a man of intelligence who cared about every constituent in the county,” Baldwin said. We’re “gonna miss him.”
Patrick Tinley Jr. also said he hoped people would remember his father as a man with an outgoing personality who was always willing to help someone in need.
“It’s a loss the community is going to have a hard time filling,” Patrick Tinley Jr. said.
Funeral services are pending at Grimes Funeral Home in Kerrville.