Jimmy Ophir Tilley entered into the earthly world on July 4, 1933 and passed into the heavenly one on October 8, 2020. A memorial service is scheduled for October 10 at First Baptist Church, Hartselle at 2:00 p.m., with visitation one hour prior. Caleb Lewis
is officiating and Peck Funeral Home assisted the family.
Born at the absolute depth of the depression in Jones Chapel, Alabama, Mr. Tilley had a childhood filled with the adventures of growing up on a farm surrounded by plenty of close cousins. He soon displayed inherent math and mechanical abilities that were hallmarks of his father and grandfather. After finishing at West Point High School, he hitchhiked his way to Florence State Teachers College to prepare to be a teacher. However, before finishing, and without telling his parents, he enlisted in the U.S. Army because he figured he was going to be drafted. In 1953, he was stationed at The Presidio in San Francisco, where he was a Corporal in the Engineer Corps, and valued because he was one of the few men who could type, a skill he learned by studying a chart that happened to be on a wall of his high school anatomy class. He volunteered for a special assignment in Anchorage, Alaska, where he spent several months before returning to San Francisco. After being saved and baptized at Jones Chapel Methodist Church as a teenager and being involved in the Baptist Student Union at Florence State, he started attending Hamilton Square Baptist Church in San Francisco, where he met and fell in love with Claire DeKoninck in 1954. They were married January 15, 1955. Instead of honeymooning in Lake Tahoe as scheduled, they drove all the way across the country to Jones Chapel, where he introduced his family to his new bride! He and Claire had many adventures driving around California in their 1956 VW beetle, and he was an affirmed VW man for all time after.
After finishing his time in the service and working for a couple of years in California, he decided to go to Embry Riddle Aeronautical School in Miami, Florida. He started an individual lawn business to earn money as he went to school, where he excelled. Upon graduation in 1960, he went to work for Pratt and Whitney in West Palm Beach, working as a design draftsman on the JT-11 engine that powered the Blackbird SR-71. In 1962, he moved to Marietta, GA, where he worked on the final design of the C141 Starlifter. These jobs were right down his alley, as he had a lifelong fascination with airplanes. After two years, he completed the journey back to Alabama, moving to Hartselle in October of 1964 to work for IBM on the design of the Saturn V instrument ring. In 1966, he completed his journey back to being a teacher when he was hired to teach drafting at Calhoun Community College. After six years of teaching at the college level, he transitioned again and he and his wife were hired as original teachers at the new Albert P. Brewer High School. He taught drafting at Brewer until retirement after 29 years of teaching.
Mr. Tilley's life could be characterized by always being willing to lend his mechanically-talented hand wherever needed. He designed houses for many people, providing professional-quality drawings, and even developed designs for several Morgan County School System buildings, including the addition for Brewer High School. He became a member of Hartselle First Baptist in 1969, and found his area of service in maintaining and running the sound system for over 30 years. He was a people person and he devoted his life to helping people get things done. He was an avid camper, and spent many summers in the Smokies hiking and learning to carve miniatures. He enjoyed antiques, especially old lamps that he often repaired. He loved telling stories of his youth, and these stories were the last thing he was able to grasp as Alzhiemer's took its toll
He was preceded in death by his parents, Ophir 0. Tilley and Elsie Laney Tilley, and by one sister Rebecca, lost in childhood. He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Claire, two sons, Patrick (Sheri) and Kenneth (Celeste), two brothers, Danny and Larry Tilley, and seven grandchildren, John Stuart Tilley, Melinda Tilley Flynn (Adam), Heather Tilley Lewis (Caleb), Logan Tilley, Owen Tilley, Virginia Tilley, and Tyler Berry (Ana).
A special word of thanks to Encompass Hospice, and to Rethenious Lynn from It's Adonai, who cared for him with the mighty spirit of the Lord during his final few days on earth.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Gideons.
Peck Funeral Home
1600 Hwy 31 SW
P.O. Box 427
Hartselle, AL 35640
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