Eight Bells: Dick Tillman

Published on October 18th, 2020

Richard Lloyd “Dick” Tillman, 83, of Syracuse, IN and Merritt Island, FL passed away at 6:47 am on October 15, 2020 at his home in Syracuse. He was born on November 27, 1936 in Elkhart, IN to Lloyd E. & Josephine (Butler) Tillman.

He graduated in 1954 from Elkhart High School, was a Class of 1958 graduate from the United States Naval Academy, and received a Master’s degree in Industrial Engineering at Texas A&M University. He was married on July 29, 1961 in Elkhart, IN to Linda J. Lowe who preceded him after 55 years of marriage on February 28, 2017.

Dick retired in 1979 from the United States Air Force after 21 years of service and opened a boat business. In 1981, he was appointed the Executive Director of the International J/24 Class Association. He and his wife, Linda, worked together in this capacity for 10 years before stepping into full retirement.

While in the Air Force, Dick was Commodore of the International Snipe Class Association and Director of the National Governing Body of Sailing. After retirement, Dick was President of the International Sunfish Class Association and later, President of the Windsurfing Class Association.

Dick actively raced sailboats, was selected for three US Pan American Teams, and was on the 1976 US Olympic Team. He was a National Champion of the Snipe Class, a National and North American Champion of the Finn Class and Windsurfing Class, and a World Masters Champion of the Laser Class and the Sunfish Class.

He patented a sailing instrument and authored four sailing books, the latest of which, The Complete Book of Laser Sailing, is currently in print. He was elected to the USNA Sailing Hall of Fame, named US Sailing’s Rolex Yachtsman of the Year (1965), elected to the International Laser Class Association Hall of Fame, and nominated for the National Sailing Hall of Fame. He also played golf, tennis, and pickle ball, and loved bicycling.

He summered at Lake Wawasee in Syracuse and wintered in Merritt Island where he was an active member of Holy Apostles Episcopal Church in Satellite Beach, FL. He was a Lay Eucharistic Minister at several Episcopal Churches.

Dick was preceded in death by his parents, wife, and brother – Jack Tillman. He is survived by three daughters – Laurie (Barry) Ward of Springfield, MO; Libbie (Tim) FitzGerald of Issaquah, WA; and Susan (Kenton) Berg of Sammamish, WA; and nine grandchildren.

Cremation will take place at Cremation Services of Kosciusko County, 4356 N. St. Rd 15, Warsaw, IN. A Celebration of Life will take place at a later date. Owen Family Funeral Home, 1001 S. Huntington St., Syracuse, IN is in charge of arrangements.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to the Goshen Home Care & Hospice, P.O. Box 723, Goshen, IN or Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation, P.O. Box 548, Syracuse, IN 46567.

To send condolences to the family in memory of Dick Tillman, click here.

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