Sandy Hook member holding cookout to benefit Christian outreaches to honor her father

One of Aubree Skinner’s most cherished memories of time with Dad Tim Tuell unfolded some 20 years ago. He manned one of the grills at a Sandy Hook United Methodist Church cookout attracting more than 1,000 people on an afternoon in a Columbus shopping center to raise money for a Christian outreach.

Tuell regularly found himself in the middle of such activities because “he was the most selfless person I have ever known,” Skinner said.

The 61-year-old Columbus native and lifelong Sandy Hook member died Aug. 24, 2021, 11 days after being diagnosed with COVID-19. Skinner and her family lost their rock, their world. He also was a helping hand for many, volunteering at church as a reader and more, at Love Chapel food pantry, packing meals for the Feed My Starving Children outreach, and packing shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child, among other activities.

“He truly had a servant’s heart,” Skinner said.

His 34-year-old daughter wants to channel her sadness and grief into continued service toward others in her father’s name. So she has planned the Annual Tim Tuell Benefit Cookout from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. August 27 at Sandy Hook, 1610 Taylor Road. All proceeds from $5 hamburger or hot dog/chips/drink meals go to the less fortunate via Feed My Starving Children, Operation Christmas Child, and the local Love Chapel food pantry. A related bake sale for donations is planned, too.

Skinner would love to feed 500 people and generate maybe $2,500 for the charities. She wants to aim for even more than memorializing her dear, departed father.

If Dad were here, at least part of him would be touched.

“He would be honored at first,” Skinner said. “But he would think it unnecessary to celebrate him personally in any capacity.”

One of her Facebook posts a month ago summarizes how the approaching one-year anniversary of her father’s passing has loomed over her thoughts and heart. Just hearing the word “death” is more than painful for her.

“Man, every time I say it, it still feels like a punch to the stomach,” she wrote. “I miss him. He should be here. I’m so sorry Dad.”

She’s thankful that she has so many details to attend to about the event, and that such work has kept her focused on far more than her loss.

“Had I not recently been channeling all that energy into something like this — well, I just can’t imagine,” Skinner said.

Her Mom, Deanna Tuell, retired after her own special service to others via managing Columbus Regional Health’s Breast Health Center, was married to her husband for 39 years.

“Tim was such a servant leader, and he loved God and helping others so much,” Deanna said. “He was loved by so many — Aubree and I are staying strong like we promised him we would.

“This (cookout) is a way to play out the love.”

In Skinner’s younger years and even during her more recent adult phase, she prized one trait of her Dad’s perhaps more than any other.

“He always took time to really listen,” she said. “He was always very good at being in the moment. He wasn’t on his phone. He wasn’t thinking ahead about what he was going to respond.”

As tough as some of the days are right now for Skinner with the anniversary of his death looming, she is grateful for her life, her family, her work, and plenty else. She still carries an exuberant spark as she speaks.

“Dad wouldn’t want me to lose that,” she said, while simultaneously acknowledging that her grief remains very real. “Besides, I realize that I have too much life to live.”

About the event

What: Tim Tuell Benefit Cookout, featuring $5 hamburger or hot dog meals and various desserts for donations.

When: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 27.

Where: Sandy Hook United Methodist Church, 1610 Taylor Road in Columbus.

Information: Facebook page for Annual Tim Tuell Benefit Cookout. Donations for those unable to attend also can be coordinated by messaging this page.