Cover photo for Donald Joe Tillman's Obituary
Donald Joe Tillman Profile Photo
1934 Donald 2021

Donald Joe Tillman

November 8, 1934 — September 25, 2021

Donald Joe Tillman, 86, of Lee’s Summit, MO passed away on Saturday, September 25th, 2021.

Don was born November 8th, 1934 in Sycamore, MO to Eunice Mae and Earl Tillman

His youth was spent around the Hodgson Mill area in Ozark County, MO. He started dating the love of his life, Mary Ellen Thompson, and they both eventually moved to the Kansas City area. They were married April 26th, 1953 in Ozark County, MO.

In February, 1954, Don proudly joined the United States Army. He was assigned to the 10th Infantry Division out of Fort Riley, KS. He was stationed in France after basic training. On April 12th, 1954, Bruce Dwayne Tillman was born and Don traveled back to Kansas City to see his new son. He was eventually shipped back to France again. On August 12th, 1955, Terry Joe Tillman was born. He was released to the Army Reserves in February, 1957 and received his honorable discharge in February of 1962.

He worked on the railroad for a time but quickly moved to Manor Bakery. His first route was delivering bread to homes directly. He eventually moved to delivering to grocery stores. He worked these routes for many years. During this time Don and Mary were blessed with 2 more children, Nancy Ellen Tillman, born May 31st, 1963, and John Marcus Tillman, born May 6th, 1968.

His work ethic provided him the opportunity to move into sales where he thrived. His reputation in the grocery industry was impeccable. He was known to be honest, hardworking, and never held back his thoughts. He was well respected and is still known to this day in the business.

Don and Mary began attending church after they were married. This became the backbone of how they raised their children. At this time Don took his family to Cleveland Avenue Church where he became a deacon. You could find him studying his bible getting ready for church. He played whatever role was needed in the church. He sang weekly in the choir. His bass voice was easily picked out. He raised all his children to love 4-part harmony, singing and listening to music all the time. He was very passionate about his Christian life.

He and Mary moved their family to South Kansas City when the church moved to a new location and was renamed Lane Avenue Baptist. Eventually they moved to Lee’s Summit, MO. In January 2013, he lost the love of his life. He continued to live in Lee’s Summit until his passing.

He was good about thinking outside the box. Don could have been held to how things used to be, but realized that being progressive was a better way to look at things. He had 4 kids that stretched his thoughts, his patience, and his love. He never turned away from anything because it was unpopular or hard. Along with this serious side, Don made himself known as a person who teased a lot. He had many various names for family members. Babies would always get their jaws bounced and provided endless giggles. Every grandchild (and great-grandchild) could explain who Clyde Kadiddlehopper was! Don had many different names: Donald Joe, son, Dad, Don, Mr. Tillman, Uncle Don, Grandpa, Great Grandpa, Grandpa Angel and even Ron! He wore them all proudly.

He was never one to complain. If asked how he was? He’d say, I’ve had a good life. Don’s work ethic never really allowed him time to acquire a real hobby. He was very passionate about the KC Royals and loved to discuss them with anyone he could. Music was a big part of his life. Some of his proudest moments were watching his children and grandchildren sing.

His biggest love besides his wife was his family and extended family. Recently he was asking when a new little girl would be joining the family. He knew how fortunate and blessed he was with his church, his family, his work and his life. He appreciated every person he met.

Don was preceded in death by his parents, Earl Arthur Tillman and Eunice Mae Wood Tillman, siblings Vivian Golightly, Jerry Ehrhart, Jack Ehrhart, Virginia Dobbs and Jeannette Phillips, wife Mary Ellen Tillman, son Bruce Dwayne Tillman. He is survived by his son Terry Joe Tillman (Sandy), daughter Nancy Ellen Williams (Ed), son John Marcus Tillman (Cindy), Daughter-in-law Ronda Tillman,11 grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren and 1 great-great grandchild.

Visitation will be 6-8PM, Thursday, September 30 at Park Lawn Funeral Home, 8251 Hillcrest Rd., Kansas City, Missouri.  Funeral services will be 10AM, Friday, October 1 at Park Lawn Funeral Home; burial in Green Lawn Cemetery.

Service Information:

Visitation will be 6-8PM, Thursday, September 30 at Park Lawn Funeral Home, 8251 Hillcrest Rd., Kansas City, Missouri.  Funeral services will be 10AM, Friday, October 1 at Park Lawn Funeral Home; burial in Green Lawn Cemetery.

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