Remembering TJ Stallings
Note: Kathy Stallings wrote this beautiful tribute to TJ Stalling’s. She wrote if for his friends as a way to honor him on the one-year anniversary of his passing and to also say thank you. Kathy graciously allowed it to be published here. TJ was a friend of mine. He had a great impact on my life and what I do to this day. I can honestly say that I would probably not be doing what I love today if it were not for TJ Stallings.
Honoring a Special Man, The Love of My Life, TJ Stallings
by Kathy Stallings
When I first met TJ it took only a short while for me to realize he wanted to be known and remembered as an honorable man to everyone who knew him. I also quickly learned that he already was that even if he didn’t know it.
After TJ’s passing, one year ago, there were numerous tributes and memorials written on his behalf from you, his friends and colleagues. Stories were told pertaining to his life growing up in a tackle shop, and stories of his life in the fishing business and how much TJ contributed to the fishing industry. In everything I read and received personally, it was always the same, you remembered things he had done for you personally and you remembered him with such fondness and with great honor. You remembered him exactly as he wanted to be remembered and that would have made him extremely proud.
From the heart of a woman who loved him and knew his personal side, I wanted to write this article so that I, too, might give honor to this wonderful man. He was and always will be the love of my life no matter how short our time was. I will honor him by remembering his wonderful qualities which included his endless selfless acts of kindness he showed to so many people. It seemed that no matter where we went he did something kind for someone whether it was at a restaurant paying for a veteran’s lunch, at a barber shop paying for a haircut for an old gentleman who was sick, or on the river very late in the evening when a stranger needed help because his boat had quit on him, and I could go on with many more stories.
I will honor him by remembering the things that made him happy. His tender love for his mother and his two daughters, all of his family and his extended family at TTI. The jokes he played on his brother Ron that made him roll with laughter, and the ones he played on Wes of which I was not allowed to repeat, and of course his love for the outdoors, fishing and nature.
One of the things that made TJ happy was the week of ICAST and the night of the dinner that was hosted by TJ and sponsored by TTI Blakemore and B’n’M Poles. This was the night TJ would be together in the same room with all his favorite people in the industry. He was so happy at this event. Making connections with people and connecting people was his favorite thing to do and what he enjoyed most about his job. I remember the last connection he made at the ICAST dinner when he said to me, “See honey, this is what it’s all about.” The connections he made for people and watching how far it would go and all the good that came from it was his joy and ultimate reward.
I know, and want you to know also, that TJ is well, more than well, he is with our Lord. His search for and finding God was one thing I did get to witness firsthand, I got to see him live the life and show the example of Christ’s love. I walked with him and knew his heart’s desire and I never saw a man who sought so hard to find God, and he did find Him. Was he perfect, no, who is, but his heart was where it was supposed to be and that is what matters. When the judgement time comes around in heaven, TJ will receive far more rewards for his good deeds here on this earth than what he might have lost. There’s a scripture that brings comfort to me when I think about where TJ is now, John 14:1, please read it.
I like to think that when you walk outside of TJ’s mansion in heaven you will certainly find a beautiful river with all kinds of big fish in it. When he isn’t on that river fishing with all the wonderful friends and family who are already there with him, you’ll find him beside the bank with his grandson and other little children teaching them how to bait their hooks and how to do it correctly, the TJ way of course. One day he will look up and see me coming. I will get to see that beautiful light shining in his eyes once again and that incredible smile that stole my heart to begin with.
The last thing I would like to say is this, we all get the chance to see him again, but we must strive to do what is right and serve God the best we can knowing that if we fall He will pick us up again and we just have to keep on going. Then one day, we too, will get to see him and all of our loved ones who are there.
Thank you for the many wonderful years of friendship you gave TJ that kept him going for a big part of his life. He treasured it. You were also his extended family. I want to thank you also for accepting me and for your love and support you have given me this past year. TJ would have liked that. I don’t have to ask you to keep him in your memories, I know you will, how could someone so special be forgotten. Our adventures, the time we had together, and our undying love for each other will always be with me, it is all safely hidden in my heart. There will never be enough I could write about him or enough I could do to give him the honor he deserves. TJ Stallings, you made the world a better place and I honor your memory and your life and I am so blessed to have been a part of it and to have been loved by you.