Michael Thomas Tinney

Michael Thomas Tinney

Michael Thomas Tinney

Michael Thomas Tinney, a collector, salesman, and West Berne native, died on Wednesday, June 3, 2020. He was 45. 

His brother, Mark Tinney, described him as “genuine, warm, and corny.”

“He loved a good corny joke,” Mark Tinney said with a laugh. “But he was always terrible at retelling them.”

Michael Thomas Tinney was born on July 23, 1975, to Ginny and Bob Tinney, the second youngest of five children. It was from their father that Mr. Tinney most likely got his penchant for jokes, Mark said.

“He used to love to tell me the funny jokes he was telling his customers in the booth,” his brother said. “I always saw a bit of my dad come out in him in those moments because my dad used to do the same thing. He’d say things like ‘There’s no extra charge for the dust,’ to people who came to buy glassware or silverware or whatever it was.” 

Another thing that stood out, Mark Tinney said, was how “loyal a friend and sibling he was. He would always stand up for you. That was particularly true of my sister. He was really there when she needed him.” 

While Mr. Tinney and his brother were students Berne-Knox-Westerlo, along with their brother Robert, they shared a group of friends that Mark Tinney said was “tight-knit,” with Mr. Tinney the most social among them. 

“He was the type of friend who would always show up, invited or not,” his brother said, “because he didn’t want to miss anything.” 

Mr. Tinney graduated from BKW in 1994, and went on to Hudson Valley Community College to study landscaping and took jobs at home improvement stores.

Mark Tinney said his brother was “very good” at landscaping, but that his passions lay in sales and collecting, an interest stoked by Doug Cater’s Flea Market and Auction House, a now-closed arena near their childhood home.

“That’s where he started his own business, really,” Mark Tinney said. “Even at a really young age, he would buy and sell things there. My mother was an antiques dealer, and we were always going around to garage sales and flea markets and things like that. And eventually Michael started investing his own money to buy things to resell at the flea market and other places.”

For the last 10 years of his life, Mr. Tinney was self-employed as an antiques dealer in Florida, where he had moved in the late 1990s, selling mostly metal and iron works, Mark Tinney said.

Mr. Tinney also had a strong interest in rocks, one that developed as he was learning how to make jewelry from an expert craftsman.

“He loved gemstones, jewels, crystals,” his brother said. “But wherever he went, he tried to collect rocks from different places. So the last time he visited New York, he brought down [to Florida] a truckful of rocks … For him, in a way, they were a souvenir of places. They represented memories.” 

In addition to jewelry, Mr. Tinney tried his hand at glass-blowing, another of several hobbies that his brother said centered around collecting and selling. 

“Any conversation I had with him over the past 10 years always included some discussion about the neat find he just made or the great deal he just got,” Mark Tinney said. “He always had a deal working.”

When he couldn’t sell his goods after the coronavirus shut the country down, Mr. Tinney was able to receive help from a food pantry, which his brother suggested was karmic given the work Mr. Tinney had done on behalf of food pantries in more fortuitous times. 

It’s for those reasons that the family is requesting that memorial contributions be donated to local food banks. 

“He was the kind of person that he would give you his last dollar if he thought you needed it more than he did,” his brother said.


Michael Thomas Tinney is “remembered by his mother Ginny Tinney and his siblings and children as a kind and loving soul who wore his heart for all to see,” his family wrote in a tribute. 

His father, Bob Tinney, died before him.

Memorial contributions can be made to a local food bank.

— Noah Zweifel


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