His wealth was in relationships
Repairman found satisfaction in helping others -- even at no cost.
Timothy Alan ''Tim'' Selepec
When Tim Selepec went into the homes of elderly people to repair their appliances, more often than not he spent lots of time chatting with them while tinkering with their stoves or refrigerators, but ended up charging them nothing.
He didn't feel right about asking them for money, he said, because he knew they were on fixed incomes.
''Tim,'' his mother reminded him, ''you'll never be rich.''
His response: ''I'm rich in so many other ways.''
Tim found his wealth in friendship, fairness and service to others. He found satisfaction in owning Sunland Appliance in Anaheim Hills, which he knew provided quality appliance repairs at fair prices. His customers could count on his promptness and reliability. And his incredible gift of gab.
For Tim, one of the perks of his job was being able to visit with customers and make life a little easier for anyone in need.
He was 46 when he died Feb. 6 at his mother's home in Orange from complications of Lyme disease.
A Connecticut native, he moved to Orange with his family in time to graduate Orange High School in 1976. After high school he worked for Clark Dye Hardware in Santa Ana, then for R&E Appliance.
He'd been handy with tools since he was a kid. Even handy without tools. His family used to joke that he could be locked in a jail cell with just the uniform on his back and still figure out how to make something. There was nothing he couldn't fix.
Even when he was ill, people could come to him and say, ''My dishwasher is making this noise when it rinses,'' and Tim could tell them how to repair it.
Tim was only 20 when he started Sunland Appliance from an office on Jefferson Street in Anaheim Hills. People would bring him their microwaves. Soon he was doing in-home repair all over the county. He was a meticulous workman as well as kind and charismatic. People liked having him in their homes. And he so enjoyed his work that it didn't even seem like a job.
He also collected and sold old metal toys. Things like windup tin toys or vintage slot cars like a Batmobile, Green Hornet or a '55 Chevy. Tim went to toy shows, talked to dealers and spent hours on the phone collecting and trading.
He married his wife, Karen, in 1994 after a long courtship and shortly before he started to become ill.
The family believes he was bitten by a tick carrying Lyme disease while mowing an aunt's lawn in Connecticut. The first symptoms showed up as he walked to his car from the Arrowhead Pond. One foot started skipping and tripping him up. Another time, his balance went so haywire that he rolled down a hill while gripping a dishwasher on wheels, unable to stop it.
By the time he died, the disease had attacked his neurons and he could no longer speak or walk or move his hands.
Losing his physical agility was hard for Tim. He was an athlete, a skier, a motorcycle and three-wheeler rider. He was getting good at golf and loved to fish in Cabo San Lucas. He'd wanted to take up fly-fishing.
The treatments that doctors tried were difficult. He underwent three total blood transfusions and countless muscle biopsies. He tried alternative medical treatments in Reno.
But he never complained, never asked, ''Why me?''
His disposition was gentle, generous and forgiving. He maintained friendships he'd had in elementary school.
He was also a perfectionist and, according to his wife, strong-willed -- a characterization he denied.
When he could no longer speak, the family pointed to letters and he'd raise his eyebrows for each letter he needed to spell a word.
And when Karen asked how he would describe himself, Tim let his sense of humor shine through by responding, letter by letter, ''Smooth.''
rhi...@ocregister.com Timothy Alan ''Tim'' Selepec Born: Dec. 30, 1957, Bridgeport, Conn. Died: Feb. 6, 2004, Orange Survivors: Wife, Karen; parents, George, Carole; sisters, Kimberly Smith, Suzanne Slater; brother, Michael; grandfather, Al Marrocco; cat, Tigger Services: 11:30 a.m. today, St. Norbert's Church, Orange. Arrangements by Fairhaven Memorial Park & Mortuary, Santa Ana. --------------------------------------------------------------------------- -----