Visionary mourned: Stockton, Delta remember downtown innovator

DOWNTOWN VIGIL: The setup at the vigil held for Tim Egkan on Sept. 16 at the Stockmarket in Stockton. PHOTO BY ORLANDO JOSE

“Stockton is a dump.”

“There is no hope with that city.”

“Glad I moved out of that place.”

Delta College students read comments like this daily on social media, knowing the reality that what they’re reading may be true.

In 2012, the city set a record high for murders with 71. That year, Stockton filed for bankruptcy.

As downtown Stockton slowly decayed, a San Diego native named Tim Egkan decided he could help turn the tide.

Egkan, the Chief Brand Officer for Ten Space Development and co-founder of Huddle Cowork, was found dead in Central Stockton, near the downtown area, on Sept. 13. Police are investigating his death as a homicide. He was 32.

Egkan appeared to have been in an altercation, according to the Stockton Police Department. A $20,000 reward has been offered for any information about this case.

In his short time in Stockton, Egkan impacted lives throughout the country, including many connected to Delta College.

Earlier this year, professors Martha Villarreal and Kathy Huff’s took their classes to a lecture from Ekgan about the operations at Huddle.

Huddle was opened with the intent to bring graphic designers, software engineers, and computer programmers to one building helping to keep local business in Stockton and away from the Bay Area.

After Egkan was introduced to the professors, a meeting was set-up for the entrepreneurial club to stop by for a lecture.

“We probably talked to him for 30- 45 minutes, and we told him our ideas that we wanted to bring students down,” said Huff. “He thought it was the best thing he heard. ‘I love it’ was his reply. ‘Yes. Lets make this happen. Do whatever you need lets make it happen.’”

Egkan was welcoming.

“When we got there, he made sure that the place was configured for us. It was really comfortable. Everything was set-up for us. Here we are bringing 50 students,” said Villarreal. “He had a really nice PowerPoint presentation ready for us. He was eager to meet the students. He mingled with them.”

Egkan’s lecture to the students was a testimony of his journey and philosophy.

He also pounded the message not to be afraid and to take chances. He encouraged them to follow their passions, do what makes them happy and be okay with failing.

“The students just loved listening to him. Everyone just loved listening to him. He was just interesting,” said Huff.

Rafeal Medina was one of the students.

“The way he pitched his presentation last semester that he wanted to reshape downtown Stockton going to be, kind of turn it to the night life,” said Medina.

The dream was to make the area similar to downtowns in Sacramento and San Francisco.

Student Angela Bardot recalled meeting Egkan.

“It was opening night of Huddle, and I was talking to Katie Macrae (Egkan’s girlfriend) and she introduces me to Tim,” said Bardot. “I felt this warmth of welcome just by talking to him.”

Bardot said her first meeting with him will always be special because he remembered her after.

“At other events he would come up to me and asked ‘Hey Angela, how are you?’ I was in shock he remembered my name. At the Huddle opening, Jerry McNerney and other important people were there, and yet this guy remembered who I was. I am just a Stocktonian. Who am I? Yet, he made me feel like I mattered.”

Students and faculty who heard Egkan speak said he helped them realize  they don’t have to leave Stockton.

“He did give me more ideas that maybe I should stay here, instead of going to the Bay Area, Tracy, Manteca, or Modesto,” said Medina. “It’s probably better to stay in Stockton because things would change down the line.”

Huff agreed.

“He saw Stockton in a way I did not see Stockton, and I was born here. He’s seen it from the outside looking in, and we’re jaded in Stockton by how people talk about Stockton. He did not see that Stockton. He saw opportunity, architecture, and he saw just things we could not see,” she said.

A well-attended vigil was held Sept. 16 where friends, family and local dignitaries showed up to praise Egkan.

“I feel Stockton lost a really good person,” said Villarreal.