Noah Pontzer wears his brother’s No. 7 jersey alongside his parents, Susan and Jim Pontzer, after an Oakland County Football Club match Aug. 6. The friendly scrimmage was played in honor of Tim Pontzer.

Noah Pontzer wears his brother’s No. 7 jersey alongside his parents, Susan and Jim Pontzer, after an Oakland County Football Club match Aug. 6. The friendly scrimmage was played in honor of Tim Pontzer.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Former C & G staff writer remembered for his talent and kindness

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Metro | Published August 9, 2021

 Former sports writer Tim Pontzer, 27, of Auburn Hills, was known for his positive energy and generous heart.

Former sports writer Tim Pontzer, 27, of Auburn Hills, was known for his positive energy and generous heart.

File photo by Patricia O’Blenes


TROY — On the evening of Friday, June 25, Auburn Hills resident Jim Pontzer rushed home at his wife’s request.

Two Troy Police Department officers were on his porch, and it wasn’t a social call.

“My wife said, ‘Timothy’s been killed,’” he recalled. “I just prayed, ‘God, if this is true, please cover my family in your peace and your grace.”

The unthinkable turned out to be reality, and Jim Pontzer learned his 27-year-old son, Tim Pontzer, had been in a fatal car accident earlier that day. As he drove on Interstate-75 in one of several torrential rain storms to pass through metro Detroit this summer, he lost control of his vehicle and slid into a concrete barrier near Square Lake Road.

Two people who had seen the accident pulled over to help Pontzer, but as they reviewed the damage to the car, a delivery van also lost control in the storm and veered directly into the wreck. One of the good samaritans was taken away with critical injuries, and the other died at the scene.

So did Pontzer.

“I walked the officers out to their cars, thanked them for coming up all the way from Troy, and I said, I know this isn’t their favorite part of the job,” he said. “Then I asked them what I should do next. How do I bury my son? They said they were sorry, but they didn’t know.”

Weeks after the tragic death, Jim Pontzer said he’s still looking to find meaning in the loss. While it might take some time, he’s sure it’s there somewhere.

“God will not let this go without a purpose, though I have no idea what that is,” he said. “Jesus said he’s strong enough to carry our burdens. We can find solace in the Holy Spirit, so I refuse to let my heart sit in grief, sorrow, hurt and anger. God might get me through this, but he’s going to have to drag me.”

A gabber from the get
Pontzer was born in Texas to Jim Pontzer and his wife, Susan, who were told they wouldn’t be able to have children. Dad introduced Pontzer and his little brother, Noah, to new people as “the two kids we can’t have.”

Always social, Pontzer showed early on he had a gift for gab and was a natural writer, his father said. He combined that with a love of sports and decided he wanted a career in sports writing.

He was able to achieve that dream and so much more.

Pontzer was a writer for the C & G Sports Department from 2016-18. He moved on to a similar position at 97.1 FM The Ticket, then did a stint in financial management before landing what he considered to be “the” job at Brand 25 Media, an advertising agency where he specialized in marketing for golf-centric clients.

Remembering our friend
There’s a saying in the news business that there is no such thing as a former reporter. This field changes the way you think and how you respond to challenges. News is in you forever.

So while Pontzer had moved on from his desk in the C & G newsroom, he’ll always be considered a part of the team, and staffers past and present remember him as someone special.

Sarah Wojcik, the staff writer for the Royal Oak Review, remembers the quiet afternoons just after lunch, when groggy writers pored over municipal meeting agendas and sifted through emails. Suddenly, everyone would be shaken awake by lively commentary.

“Tim could light up a room with his grin. We always knew when he was in the building because his voice carried and he loved to chat, especially about sports,” Wojcik said.

“Tim was a great guy — hard-working, talented, funny, kind. Even though he was only at C & G for a couple of years, he left such a lasting, positive impression. I’m shocked and saddened by his sudden passing, and my heart goes out to his family and friends,” said K. Michelle Moran, the staff writer for the Grosse Pointe Times.

Christian Davis, former editor for C & G Sports, said he enjoyed Pontzer’s company as much as his work.

“Tim’s first assignment for us was covering a local baseball game. I had asked that he do a simple game report to see how his writing looked. Tim went out of his way and profiled a manager along with the game story. He had a gift for writing — finding something unique and worth telling in every assignment,” Davis said in an email. “As good as Tim was at writing, he was an even better person. It was impossible not to like Tim. He was quick to smile and wanted to make sure you felt like you were the most important person he was going to talk to that day.”

Along with Davis, Pontzer became fast friends with other staffers in the editorial department, like Andy Kozlowski, the staff writer for the Madison-Park News.

“Tim was my coworker, my financial advisor and my friend. During long talks with him over lunch or after hours, I marveled at his empathy and ability to make an hours-long conversation feel like a brisk five minutes. Hours flew by when talking to Tim. He had the remarkable ability to chat with anyone about anything, without ever making you feel uncomfortable,” Kozlowski wrote. “People felt at ease around Tim because he loved them for who they are — his interest was sincere, and his enthusiasm was infectious. And he was exceedingly generous. The only time he wasn’t in good cheer is when he was wracking his brain trying to think of how to help a friend. He lived his life fully, but he never forgot about others. And those who knew Tim won’t ever forget him.”

Perhaps no staffer was closer to Pontzer than former layout designer Josh Soltman. The two met in journalism school at Oakland University, and reunited in the C & G newsroom, where they became close pals, having lunch together each day and laughing as they walked out in the evening.

“The first thing he said to me was an inappropriate joke about an article I had up on my computer screen, so I immediately liked him, because I don’t take anything seriously and need to be able to joke around,” Soltman remembered. “I would say the only way my impression changed was that when I first met him I thought he seemed funny and like a nice guy, but I didn’t think much beyond that. But he turned out to become my best friend and was one of the most genuine people I’ve ever known in my life.”

This reporter remembers Pontzer as the bright-eyed new kid in the newsroom — a personality that curmudgeonly veteran writers like myself tend to avoid. Despite jabs, like when I kiddingly called him “Little Timmy,” Pontzer was unmoved.

Instead, his work got sharper and his presence bigger. He signed up for the editorial kickball team, then came out for Thursday night bar trivia. If there was a sports question on the docket that night, the other teams could go ahead and head home — they hadn’t a chance against our guy.

He was smart, and even stylish. He never let a particularly fabulous pair of shoes go unnoticed. I miss that.

A short life well lived
Stories of Pontzer’s kindness and joyful attitude were seemingly endless at his memorial service last month, when hundreds of friends, family, teammates and coworkers turned up to pay their respects.

It was the greatest final gift any parent could receive, and the Pontzer family was astounded by details even they didn’t know.

“We’ve got a ton of food in our basement. Every so often, Tim would go down there, fill up a box, and leave with it. I never asked what he was doing. But it turns out he had a classmate that had been basically disowned by his family, he had no money and no food. Tim would take him stuff,” Jim Pontzer said. “And when he was at the radio station, they’d throw this swag at him and say, ‘Hey, Pontzer. Get rid of this stuff.’ So he’d put it in his car, drive through not-so-nice parts of town and when he spotted homeless people he’d get out and say ‘Here, take these shoes. Take these shirts.’”

Those memories can only provide so much comfort to his family now, and Jim Pontzer said they believe their son, a blessing to those he came across, got a miracle of his own in the end.

“If somebody does something for my family, I never forget that. And what better favor could I receive than to have my son seated next to Jesus Christ?” he said. “As long as I have breath, I will grieve for my son. But what I know and my hope is greater than all of that. By golly, we miss him. I just have to remember he’s at the party; he’s there. He’s at the safest place he’s ever going to be.”