Local political columnist Tim Chavez passed away Thursday evening following a battle with leukemia.
Visitation will take place from noon to 2 p.m. Monday at St. Edward Catholic Church, 188 Thompson Lane, with a funeral service to follow. Chavez, 50, worked as a reporter and columnist at The Tennessean for 10 years and then began publishing his own blog, Political Salsa, a year ago.
Noted for his independent perspective, Chavez was a tireless advocate for issues ranging from health care to finance to immigrant issues. In 2005, Chavez wrote passionately about the scaling back of TennCare program.
Last year, he broke the story of the immigrant woman who while nine months pregnant, was arrested during a Berry Hill traffic stop and subsequently gave birth while incarcerated. His blog post on the incident prompted a slew of local and national stories after The New York Times picked it up.
He nearly died from a previous battle with leukemia in 2006 and considered the time since then “three extra years after the first diagnosis to get my affairs and faith in order.”
Chavez was actively involved at St. Edward Catholic Church and sang in the choir there. St. Edward Rev. Joseph Breen said Chavez was generous in his support of the newly founded Our Lady of Guadalupe Church for the south Nashville Hispanic community.
“The last two years were years filled with a great deal of peace and joy,” Breen said. “He was very much involved in the choir and enjoyed the singing and the friendships of the members of the choir. He had a real love for the new Hispanic church, Our Lady of Guadalupe.”
Mike Sherman, who worked with Chavez in Oklahoma City, Utica, N.Y. and served as his editor in Nashville, called his colleague "the best journalist I've ever worked with."
"Tim's bedrock belief was that journalists should report from the community, not the office," Sherman said. "He went out to give voice to the voiceless. And he did that passionately."
Chavez is survived by his wife Kathi, who in an e-mail to family and friends said Tim passed away without pain or struggle. “It was so peaceful,” the email said.
He is also survived by two brothers, Mike Chavez and Gerald Chavez, both of Del City, Okla.; a stepson, Japhet Thacker, Brentwood; a stepdaughter, Una Winterman, Bloomington, Ind., and two granddaughters.
In lieu of flowers, Kathi requested that donations be made to Smithson-Craighead Academy, 3307 Brick Church Pike, Nashville, 37207, which Chavez supported passionately.