Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Epilogue | Timothy "Big Tim" Walters

Big Tim's Bar-B-Que owner, Timothy Walters, lived by his own set of rules

ST. PETERSBURG — Like the secret ingredients of his barbecue sauce, Timothy "Big Tim" Walters chose his friends carefully. For everyone else, he asked only one thing: leave him alone.

"He did not play," said longtime friend Elzo Atwater. "He was straight, no-nonsense business."

The owner of Big Tim's Bar-B-Que, a restaurant he opened in 1968 and replicated in several mostly successful ventures, Walters attracted hungry admirers and at least a few enemies over 41 years. Despite arrests over the years on charges of assault, burglary and racketeering, Walters will most likely be remembered by locals for his garlic-and-molasses barbecue.

Mr. Walters died Saturday at St. Anthony's Hospital. He was 66 and had heart trouble and diabetes.

"He was a shrewd businessman," said Richard Escobar, a Tampa lawyer who was representing Mr. Walters on a 2005 racketeering charge. "If he saw a legal opportunity to make some money, he took it. A lot of times, that rubs people the wrong way."

Mr. Walters also invested in real estate, Escobar said. He owned an auto repair shop next door to Big Tim's at 530 34th St. S, which authorities claim was operated as a chop shop.

His supporters paint a portrait of a misunderstood man who donated food and money to churches and who would give an unemployed person a chance.

Mr. Walters grew up in Gainesville and went on to play football at Howard University in Washington, D.C. Teammates knew him as "Mean Big Tim," Mr. Walters told the Times in a rare 1977 interview.

He followed a girlfriend to St. Petersburg in 1964. He started a janitorial service before investing his savings into a restaurant on Tangerine Avenue and 31st Street S. Over the years, he opened three more restaurants in St. Petersburg and one in Tampa.

He relaxed with trusted friends who didn't want to borrow money or meddle in his affairs.

In 1976, he was accused of assaulting a fire inspector who told Mr. Walters to clean his grill once a month instead of once a year. More recently, according to court documents, Mr. Walters warned a witness not to steal from him, saying he had "killers out there who will (mess) you up, break your legs and arms."

"My temper?" Mr. Walters said in the 1977 interview. "Sure I've got a temper. I know it. It's a hell of a temper. I just don't want people messing with me."

Andrew Meacham can be reached at (727) 892-2248 or ameacham@sptimes.com.

>>Biography

Timothy H. Walters

Born:

April 12,

1942.

Died:

March 21, 2009.

Survivors: wife, Mary; daughters, Tammy Middlebrooks (Marlo) and India Kyler; brothers, Ed, James, Freddie and Jerry Rolax; a sister, Susie Walters; and a granddaughter.

Service: 11 a.m. Saturday (visitation 10 a.m.);

First Institutional Baptist Church, 3144 Third Ave. S.

Big Tim's Bar-B-Que owner, Timothy Walters, lived by his own set of rules 03/25/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 25, 2009 11:35pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Dade City's Wild Things blocks PETA officials at gates for court-ordered site inspection

    Wildlife

    Times Staff Writer

    DADE CITY — Dade City's Wild Things founder Kathy Stearns refused to let People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals officials enter her facility on Thursday for a court-ordered inspection, court filings show.

    Dade City's Wild Things founder Kathy Stearns refused to let People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals officials enter her facility on Thursday for a court-ordered inspection, court filings show. This comes four days after 19 Wild Things tigers arrived at the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park in Oklahoma. A judge had granted an emergency injunction July 14, ordering Stearns not remove any tigers pending the upcoming PETA inspection. Photo from Facebook page of the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park in Oklahoma.
  2. St. Petersburg City Council approves $326 million sewage fix

    Blogs

    ST. PETERSBURG — Last week the City Council learned no criminal charges would result from the up to 200 million gallons of sewage St. Petersburg's sewer system released from …

    [LARA CERRI  |  Times]
  3. Pasco commuters watch out: Broken water main restricts State Road 52

    Public Safety

    NEW PORT RICHEY — A water main break has caused a portion of State Road 52 — one of the busiest roads in Pasco County — to buckle on Thursday afternoon, reducing three lanes of westbound traffic to just one.

  4. Man taken into custody after live streaming drive along Clearwater Beach sand

    Public Safety

    CLEARWATER — Clearwater Police took a man into custody Thursday afternoon after, they said, he drove his car over beach chairs and umbrellas along Clearwater Beach and streamed it on Facebook.

    Clearwater Police took a suspect into custody Thursday afternoon after he drove along Clearwater Beach to Caladesi Island, running over beach chairs and umbrellas. [Courtesy of Clearwater Police]
  5. Once trapped and wounded, manatee and calf return to the wild

    Wildlife

    NEW PORT RICHEY — The small crowd readied cameras and craned their necks, peering over heads and through bodies to try and catch a glimpse. Brittany Pharel, 10, wanted to see the hulking manatees, a mother and her calf, laid out on blue tarps Thursday along the edge of the Pithlachascotee River.

    Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo's associate veterinarian Lauren Smith, 33, examines the heart rate of a manatee calf named Cottee just before it was released into the waters of the Pithlachascotee River on Thursday. 
Cottee's mother Pascow was released at the same time in New Port Richey. 
The pair became stranded in May and the mother was found wounded. They needed to be rehabilitated before they could be released into open waters. [ALESSANDRA DA PRA  |   Times]