Obituary of Robert Tillett (1921 – 2021) – Louisville, KY
LOUISVILLE – Robert Sidney Tillett (Bob) passed away one month after the age of 100 on September 5, 2021. He had lived and worked in Louisville KY since 1954. He was born on August 1, 1921 in Syracuse NY. While still a child, he moved to Akron, Ohio, with his mother Elizabeth Walrath and was adopted by Samuel Raymond Tillett. He grew up in Akron. After completing high school, where he distinguished himself in academia and cross-country, he began his studies at Akron University and then transferred to Ohio University to complete his medical studies. As was common during the Depression, he worked nights (in a tire factory) and attended college during the day. Through a combination of work and study, he “got into” college. As World War II looms on the horizon, he enlisted in the ROTC and received his commission as 2nd Lieutenant. However, after being accepted to Case Western Reserve Medical School, “Uncle Sam” decided that Bob should continue his education, and although he was still in the military, he was “fired” as soldier, as an eligible military man who was part of the nationalized medical schools were not allowed to retain officer status. Even though he did his medical school in 3 years instead of the usual 4, by the time he graduated the war was over and he continued his postgraduate training for 2 years before being called to the active service. While studying medicine, he met and married the love of his life, North Carolinian Jean Dail. They celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary last December. Jean was in a diet studies program at Cleveland Hospital, and yes, they met on a streetcar. The US military said it was time to go to work, and for the next three years he was on active medical duty with the rank of captain. This time included a year in Trieste, Italy where he was the doctor in charge of the military hospital and was accompanied by Jean and his new son Robert Jr. At that time, Trieste was a potential flashpoint as it bordered the Communist State of Yugoslavia, and there was the threat of an invasion by the Yugoslavs. He remained in the Army Reserves until 1955. After active service, he returned to complete his internal medicine training in Chicago. He entered private practice at Goldsboro NC for two years and was
invited to come to Louisville by his former main resident in Chicago, John Llewellyn, in 1954. A year later, his twin sons David and Edward were born. He lived and practiced internal medicine in Louisville, retired from clinical practice at age 69, and continued to work in medical review until he was 78. Early in his career, he was on staff at most hospitals in Louisville, later limiting his hospital experience. at the Highlands Baptist Hospital and the Evangelical Methodist Hospital. He was joined in practice by Drs. John O’Brien and David Bybee. He served on the volunteer clinical faculty of the University of Louisville’s Department of Medicine, offering third and fourth year medical students the opportunity to be mentored by a highly qualified and experienced clinician. In addition to his medical practice, Bob served as chairman of the medical staff at Methodist Hospital, chairman of the Louisville Society of Internets, and chairman of what was then the Jefferson County Medical Society. After Bob retired and Methodist was absorbed into Norton Healthcare, he was a founding member of the “Methodist Mafia” senior medical group and was active in the GLMS Cato Society. Although he never returned to competitive running (with one exception) after high school, he was a regular runner until his 70s and a long distance walker until the mid-90s. His exception race happened when he and 3 other running buddies in their 50s decided to run a high school girls’ mile relay team, with unsatisfactory results for the men! Classical music was of early interest, as he remembered listening to the Met Opera on the radio on Saturday as a teenager. His musical talent was quite modest, but as a young adult he obtained a professional harmonica to continue a playing tradition he had learned from his mother. History, biography, and theater were all interests, but more than anything he loved family, including children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He also had a knack for what are now called “daddy jokes”. And if you didn’t laugh enough the first time around, he happily repeated the joke. He was predeceased by parents Elizabeth Tillett and Raymond Tillett as well as sisters Betty Tulley, Ann Baker and brother Sam Tillett.
He is survived by his wife Jean, his sons Robert (Taken), Edward and David (Robin). Also surviving are grandchildren Kathryn Tillett (Jesse Eichbauer), James Tillett (Tracy) Jeff Tillett
(Allison) and Chris Tillett (Kaitie), and her great-grandchildren Harper, Anderson, Charlie and Edie Tillett and Ian Eichbauer. A sister-in-law, Ruth Ann Tillett, survives him, as well as many nieces and nephews.
He was a member for over 60 years and a former deacon of the Highland Presbyterian Church. Due to the pandemic, a celebration of life will take place at a later date. Interment will be in Cave Hill Cemetery.
Memorial donations can be made to the Red Cross, The Salvation Army or a charity of the donor’s choice.
“He was a man, take him for everything, I will no longer consider him as such” – Hamlet Act 1, Scene 2
Published by Courier-Journal from September 10 to 12, 2021.