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Royal Oak Senior Community Center to hold memorial for late chef

Meal program was scheduled to resume Feb. 5

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published February 5, 2019

 Erin Koch, the new chef at the Leo Mahany/Harold Meininger Senior Community Center, prepares chocolate chip cookies using late chef Tim Campbell’s cookbook Feb. 4.

Erin Koch, the new chef at the Leo Mahany/Harold Meininger Senior Community Center, prepares chocolate chip cookies using late chef Tim Campbell’s cookbook Feb. 4.

Photo by Sarah Wojcik




ROYAL OAK — The sudden death of Tim Campbell, known to most as Chef Tim, shook many in the Royal Oak community. The Madison Heights resident was 59 years old when he died Dec. 14.

At 3 p.m. Friday, March 15, the Senior Community Center will hold a celebration of life for Campbell, who was a chef for the city for more than 30 years. 

Coordinator of Senior Services Paige Gembarski said the whole community is invited to the celebration of life, which will include light refreshments, a photo presentation and the opportunity for attendees to share memories of Campbell.

“He was like family (to the seniors),” Gembarski said. “They all would take him under their wings and treated him like a son.”

Carolyn Marsh, outreach administrator for the Senior Community Center, said Campbell was enmeshed in the lives of those he served at the Senior Community Center and would inquire after them and their families. She said visitors of all ages, including the preschool at the center, enjoyed bringing in ingredients and recipes for Campbell.

“He was very congenial with them,” Marsh said. “We miss him a lot.”

She added that Campbell was also an accomplished pianist and artist and would create artwork for staff. 

Gembarski said Campbell served lunch on Friday, Dec. 14. The city received word on Sunday, Dec. 16, that Campbell had died later on Friday.

The meal program has been on a hiatus since Dec. 17.

On Feb. 5, Erin Koch will take the reins in the kitchen and the meal program will resume.

Meal service is available from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. It costs $3.50 to eat in or $4 for carryout, and cookies cost $1 each. Those interested in purchasing a meal must register by 1 p.m. the day before to receive a meal, and the program is open to all.

Koch attended Birmingham Public Schools and culinary school in Chicago, and she has worked in hotels and restaurants.

“My husband and I live in Royal Oak now, and working for the city is an ideal job, so I’m happy to be there,” she said. “I’ve always been in the kitchen, whether it be baking, chocolate work or savory foods.”

She described herself as a high-energy person with a passion for serving a need in the community and added that she is looking forward to putting her own spin on things while bringing back some favorite, signature dishes served by Campbell.

“I’m sure, because of the long legacy with Chef Tim, that I have some big shoes to fill,” Koch said. 

The Leo Mahany/Harold Meininger Senior Community Center is located at 3500 Marais Ave., near 13 Mile and Crooks roads.

For more information, call the Senior Community Center at (248) 246-3900 or visit

Call Staff Writer Sarah Wojcik at (586) 218-5006.