Friend To So Many: Remembering Tim Dixon

When friends thought about Timothy Dixon, 'kind' was always the word that came to mind.

An exchange student from the University of Edinburgh, Tim had a passion for the outdoors and came to UBC to study geology. He would often go hiking in the mountains with the classmates and friends he had met during his time abroad.

On March 12, the flag at the intersection between Main Mall and Agronomy was lowered in his memory. Earlier in the month, Tim had passed away suddenly in his room at Fairview Crescent. He was only 20 years old.

After starting his year at UBC in September, Tim quickly grew close with a group of other exchange students from all over the world. Most of them lived at Fairview and would get together to hang out, explore Vancouver or go out for drinks in their spare time after classes.

Friends described Tim as quiet, reflective and kind to just about everybody he met. He was there for his friends in a constant, silent way that would sometimes go unnoticed by those around him.

Leo Theobaldt, who also met Tim through the Fairview crew, said that Tim was the type of friend that you grew close to over time spent together, without even realizing it.

They would see each other often to work out, go swimming or watch soccer games. Tim’s favourite team was the Celtic Football Club, based in Glasgow, Scotland.

“That’s what happened,” said Theobaldt. “You just realized, at some point, that we just kind of sat somewhere, just the two of us, and it wasn’t uncomfortable and we actually were friends.”

Lucas Bernar first met Tim at the Samesun Hostel before both of them would move into Fairview. They knew that they would be roommates for the year and began to talk.

One time, in mid-September, Tim tried to explain the details around the Scottish independence referendum to Bernar. He was passionate about Scotland’s independence and would talk about it with excitement.

“He was trying to explain [to] me why he thought Scotland should be independent, and how the whole UK Government structure is,” said Bernar. “I couldn’t quite understand half of what he said because his accent was too strong and he spoke too fast, but I remember him being very excited to tell me."

Tim also liked to enjoy Vancouver’s nightlife -- visiting pubs across the city with his friends. According to Theobaldt, Tim would end up at The Bimini on Fourth Avenue so often that his friends had nicknamed it "Timmini's."

During those nights, Tim would often sit back, drink a beer and talk to those around him while observing the action at the club.

“He was the kindest guy,” said Baptiste Savary, another exchange student at UBC. “He was always here, smiling and he wasn’t speaking but always making small jokes suddenly and they were funny.”

Almost all of Tim’s friends remembered the time that he shocked everyone by jumping into Coal Harbour after a night spent hanging out at Granville Island’s Backstage Lounge as one of the most memorable moments from their exchange.

“It was in November so it was freezing but he just did it and I took a video of him,” said Linda Lilly, who currently studies at UBC. “And every time he saw me he jokingly told me ‘Linda don't show this to anyone,’ but I know that he was really proud of that secretly.”

Tim would often not respond to the various party and event invitations that he received through Facebook, but could always be counted on to show up at some point during the night.

Many of the people that Tim met during their time on exchange wished that they had gotten to know him better. In the excitement of coming to a new place, meeting other people and getting to know the city, there was often not enough time to pause and talk.

But no matter where he went or what he did, Tim’s thoughtful and compassionate presence was always felt strongly by those who knew him. He was always looking out for his friends and acquaintances in small, thoughtful ways.

“He was a really nice, quiet guy who was always there for you and who you would take for granted sometimes because he was always there and always helping out when you needed something,” said Theobaldt.

After many from the original group of friends left to go home following their first term at UBC, Tim grew especially close with those who had stayed behind in Vancouver after December.

Along with Theobaldt and Savary, Chi-Wai Kou was among the group of friends who had gone on a trip to Whistler with Tim over reading week. Four of them had booked an apartment for two people and had to sneak the other two in unnoticed. It was during the time they spent snowboarding, partying or just hanging out that their friendship truly cemented.

On an average day in Fairview, Tim’s passing still doesn’t feel real. As time goes by, the initial shock of his death has been replaced by the feeling that Tim will walk through the door at any moment, will still be there in person or on Facebook the next day. And although the circumstances of his death remain a painful mystery to his friends, his quiet warmth and good nature live on in hearts and in thoughts.

Kou said that, despite all the pain of losing a good friend, he's honoured to have met Tim and shared in his kindness and positive outlook on the world. As friends from exchange begin to scatter and go home to different parts of the world, Tim's memory also travels far and near.

“Although we are still trying to cope and understand his passing, his influence and his memory will always live forever,” said Kou. “Timbits -- as one of our dear mates on exchange, as part of the best time of our lives, as one of us."