Tim Koons-McGee ’80 finds himself — and career success — behind the ice cream counter

Tim Koons-McGee ’80, left, and his husband, Roy, resolved to embark on a career together: running an ice cream shop.
Tim Koons-McGee ’80, left, and his husband, Roy, resolved to embark on a career together: running an ice cream shop.
Courtesy The Comfy Cow

Tim Koons-McGee ’80 finds himself — and career success — behind the ice cream counter

Tim Koons-McGee ’80 tried “a million” careers — he owned a swimming-pool company, trained thoroughbred racehorses, and restored historic homes — but nothing stuck. “All of them were successful, but there was always this burning desire to do something else,” says Koons-McGee, who lives in a suburb of Louisville, Ky. 

Then, at the age of 40, he came out as gay. He explained this to his 10-year-old daughter (he was divorced from her mother), who soon decided to live with him full-time. Several years later, his romantic partner of 10 years died of a brain aneurysm, and within the next year his father and brother also died. Koons-McGee became, he says, “a high-functioning alcoholic.” One night he found himself in a bar in Louisville and asked himself, “What am I doing?” He went to Alcoholics Anonymous the next day and has been sober since.

OPEN FOR BUSINESS: We asked ourselves are people going to want to eat gay ice cream? But Louisville is very gay-friendly, so it really wasn't an issue.

He met Roy McGee at an AA meeting. The two were married in Montreal in 2007 (they changed their last names to Koons-McGee) and resolved to embark on a career together: running an ice cream shop. “We went to the bank at the height of the Great Recession,” Koons-McGee says. “They thought we were insane.”

After friends and family offered help — and a different bank offered a loan — the pair opened The Comfy Cow in Louisville in December 2009. “We had lines out the door, even though it was winter,” he says. The shop has an eclectic vibe, with recycled church pews and ice cream scoops hanging from the ceiling. There are now eight Comfy Cow shops in three states.

At 57, Koons-McGee has found success, in more ways than one: “I’m very comfortable in my own skin, and that’s a good place to be.”