BULLHEAD CITY — Tim Umphress, 55, owner of Mohave Broadband and a member of the Mohave Shrine Club and Masonic Lodge No. 68, was found dead Oct. 11 in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico.
Umphress was on vacation in Tijuana and staying overnight at a local hotel where he was found dead. His death, a strangulation, is under investigation as a homicide by law enforcement there.
“He had the biggest heart of anyone I’ve met,” said Clint Stevens, a Shriner and past Lodge Master. “He’d give you the shirt off his back.”
Umphress and Stevens both worked to bring a Thanksgiving meal to the community for several years at the lodge. Umphress ran the holiday food service, Stevens said.
Over the years, Umphress served as the local Shrine Club president, chaplain, secretary and held other offices.
He was considered the club’s “go-to guy,” according to Stevens.
Umphress also had a keen interest in helping sick children receive medical care and was highly involved in assisting local families obtain medical care through Shriner’s International, which operates 22 children’s hospitals and numerous clinics around North America.
Children and youths as old as 18 from area families unable to pay for needed medical care could receive it at the organization’s hospitals in Pasadena, California, or Salt Lake City for a variety of health issues, such as club feet, flat feet, hand deformities, face deformities, limb differences, orthopedic conditions related to cerebral palsy, bone, joint and muscle diseases, spina bifida and some sports injuries.
Umphress was a father and grandfather. One of his three children died in 2007.
Stevens said his friend was a business owner, but he originally had considered a different career path: “He studied to be a social worker.”
Stevens made a missing person report to the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office early last week about Umphress but found out on Wednesday what had happened. Stevens’ wife found a news report about Umphress’ death online. It was in Spanish so they used a translation program so they could see it in English. All of the reports listed his age as 45, not 55.
Umphress had decided to take better care of himself — especially after being involved in a serious vehicle accident awhile back. He was thinner, stronger and had been feeling happier.
He rode motorcycles, wanted to buy a boat and travel the sea. He enjoyed traveling.
His relatives live in other parts of the country and both of his sons have arrived in the Tri-state. One will retrieve their father’s remains and the other will look after operations of Mohave Broadband.
The family intends to continue operating the internet business, based in Mohave Valley, that serves the Tri-state.
Stevens said the Masons and Shriners considered themselves Umphress’ extended family.
The two of them went out regularly for seafood dinners.
“We’d get together — eat, talk, and solve the world’s problems,” he said. ‘I’m going to really miss him.”
No date for a service has been set. Umphress’ remains are still in Mexico and it will require family members as well as personal and family documents to retrieve him, Stevens added.