The night before he died, Timothy Romo, 49, invited his neighbors over to talk about vacations, anniversary plans and their families

By Wendy Grossman Kantor
May 28, 2021 12:33 PM
tim romo
Tim Romo
| Credit: gofundme

During the pandemic, Timothy Romo and his wife made an effort to stay connected to their neighbors.

Almost every evening after work, Mary Baldwin, 54, says she received a text message saying, "The garage door's open!" Then she and her husband, Keith, would head next door and spend the evening talking, laughing and drinking wine.

On Tuesday evening, May 25, they went over to the Romos as usual. They chatted about vacation and anniversary plans, kids and grandkids. They ended the evening with a shot of Fireball.

"We ended our night like always: 'See you tomorrow, love you,'" Mary remembers. "You couldn't ask for better friends, neighbors. They're like family."

The next morning, around 8:30 a.m., Romo's wife called Mary with news of a shooting at a San Jose light rail facility where he worked as a supervisor.

Keith was at his office nearby, so he immediately went to the facility.

"I was one of the first couple people there," says Keith, 48, who works with custom optics. He stood among family members of employees holding a piece of paper with his neighbor's name on it.

"I wanted to see him," Keith says. He stood and waited with about 150 people. When one woman learned her loved one died, she started screaming and sobbing. He stayed until around 11 a.m., when Romo's son and daughter arrived at the scene.

Keith soon learned that his neighbor was of nine people killed.

"It's just heartbreaking," Mary says. "You don't expect to go to work and something like that happen."

The Baldwins remember Romo as a fun, kind, giving neighbor — always willing to lend a hand — whether it was helping Keith fix the brakes on his car or tearing out flooring in their home.

"He helped us and never hesitated. He would come over and mow our lawn sometimes," Mary says. "If my husband was hunting, Tim and his wife would check on me and make sure I was okay. We're just heartbroken."

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Romo was a Raiders fan, loved college football, played darts and had two dogs — Scooby and Lucky. The neighbors' dogs were such close friends that Romo removed a couple boards in the fence so the Baldwins' lab, CJ, could come over.

Romo planned to visit his son and grandbaby this weekend, the Baldwins say. A GoFundMe has been set up for his family.

"He was a great man," Mary says. "He was just an amazing person. He will be truly and deeply missed."