As this year’s chairs for the floral festival, the Carrs are well-suited to the task of being the Arboretum’s ambassadors.
“This has been so much fun,” she said. “We love answering questions and greeting guests, and it’s just so beautiful out here.”
“I can’t tell a weed from a flower,” joked Tim, “but I have an insatiable curiosity about everything, and I love to people watch.”
Chris Emrich, the Arboretum marketing vice president, said many factors go into selecting the chairs for Dallas Blooms.
“Tim and Sandy have shown a significant dedication for over a decade. They are extremely knowledgeable about the history of the Arboretum and their devotedness is a true inspiration to both staff and volunteers,” he said.
The couple is quick to agree that it is really Sandy that leads the charge. She began volunteering at the Arboretum eight years ago as a docent for the DeGolyer House. Her knowledge of the flowers and other plantings has grown steadily.
“Just don’t ask me to dig. I don’t do that very well. And they won’t let me drive golf cart shuttles anytime soon, either. I sort of have a lead foot,” she warned.
If the speed at which she lives her life is any indication, that caution may be well-founded.
“I don’t know any woman that could do half the things she does,” Tim said with obvious admiration.
Sandy plays bridge, is in two book clubs, and teaches the Senior Sneekers exercise class at Gold’s Gym. She is a docent at the SMU Meadows Museum of Art, Chairman of the Arboretum Docent Board and presenter on the Speaker’s Bureau.
Where does all this Jack Russell Terrier energy come from? “My mother,” she says without hesitation. “She was always like that – traveled into her late 80s.”
If Sandy is the diminutive firecracker (she barely hits five feet tall and talks a mile a minute), then Tim is the long, tall fuse pushing six feet and change. Admittedly outspoken and opinionated, he sings her praises and seems to enjoy telling Their Story.
Once upon a time, he knew her when she was only five. He was ten. Both are native Dallasites and both attended Sacred Heart School when it was still housed in what is now The Cathedral Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Ross Avenue.
Back then, she was Sandy Huffines. Later on, she and her sisters went to Ursuline Academy. He and her brothers went to Jesuit. His sister was one of her classmates.
Time passed and both married, but not each other. At 18 and a half, he married Darlene, with whom he raised nine children. Sandy married Jim Holacka and had three boys.
Unbeknownst to either of them at the time, they both bought houses in Garland, just a few blocks from each other.
In July of 1973, Sandy and Jim moved into Lake Highlands. One month later, along came Tim and Darlene into Lake Highlands, and about five minutes away. Their children went to school together. At one point, Sandy was the room mother for Tim’s daughter’s class, and their kids graduated from Lake Highlands High School.
Then Darlene got sick. She passed away from lung cancer in 1997 after 44 years of marriage. Jim also got sick. Two years later in 1999, he succumbed to pancreatic cancer after 37 years with Sandy. They became Sandy the Widow and Tim the Widower.
And both were very busy with their own lives. Sandy was director of the Alzheimer’s unit at Monticello West. Tim was (and still is) occupied with his successful practice as an individual attorney.
“I like doing what I’m doing, and I’m too bossy to work for someone else,” he said.
But they saw each other every day at Mass and waved.
Sandy said they “continued this waving stuff” until August 1999, when they went on their first date. Tim said he waited at least six months before pursuing her.
“My sister and mom were wild with curiosity,” Sandy said.
But she thought Tim was “too big, too loud and too bossy.”
He wasn’t giving up. When he went to her mother, with whom he was already friends to ask for her blessing (Sandy’s father had died several years before), her mother was alarmed that it was “so soon!”
“I told her I had to act fast! Sandy wouldn’t stay on the market long!” he laughed.
The blessing was given, so it was “full steam ahead.”
Both of their families include nine children, 12 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Everyone is happy with the arrangement.
They will celebrate their 12th anniversary on April 29. Life with the Carrs is still full steam ahead, with Dallas Blooms just the latest on a long list of things done and things still to do.
Tim has told her that this is “her time, to go for it.” Sandy said he is the best supporter for “all my craziness.” Sometimes she wonders if it’s too much.
“You wouldn’t leave, would you?” she asked.
“No way!” he exclaimed. “I gotta stick around to see what happens next!”
Dallas Blooms wraps up this weekend. For information on all events, visit dallasarboretum.org.