Tilley, Bernard Earl

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Bernard Earl Tilley, age 81, a lifelong resident of Radford died April 30, 2007. Preceding him in death was his wife of fifty-three years, Christine Hearne Tilley, as well as his parents Ward M. Tilley and Theresa Smoot Tilley; also grandsons Gaston Adam Tilley and Brent Browning.

He is survived by his wife of six years Pauline O’Neill Tilley, three sons and their wives, Tom and Marge Tilley, Gary and Patty Tilley, all of Radford, and Bob and Cheryl Tilley of Salem; five grandchildren Jordan Rae Tilley, Jessy Kathleen Hylton, Tomi Ward Tilley, Heather Elizabeth Browning, and Bryan Joseph Browning; five great-grandchildren; a brother Thomas L. Tilley, and wife, Betty Jo Tilley of Radford; a sister Mary Ward Haislip, and husband Col. Richard E. Haislip of Virginia Beach; two step-daughters, Sharon Talbott and Susan Herrmann, and a step-son, Wayne O’Neill, all of Maryland.

A graduate of Radford High School, he attended National Business College where he studied Accounting and Business Administration. He was involved throughout his working life in numerous civic, professional, and service activities. In addition to appointments to numerous commissions and committees relative to local education and government, he has been a teacher, Deacon, Elder, Board Chairman and trustee at Radford Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), where he was a life-long member.

He was a President of the Radford Chamber of Commerce, President of the Radford-Montgomery TB and Health Association (now the Virginia Lung Society), Charter President of the Meridian Pride Lions Club, Charter President of the New River Valley Chapter of the Virginia Personnel and Guidance Association, a director of the United Way and its predecessor organization. He was appointed to serve on the Governor’s Manpower Development Commission, a body charged with responsibility for overseeing the distribution of Federal funds for job training programs. He was a frequent visiting lecturer to business classes at Radford University, Virginia Tech, and New River Community College on matters relative to human resources work.

He was a member of the Draft Board for the Selective Service System during the Vietnam conflict. He was a member of the Marine Corps Association, the Marine Corps League, and the Fleet Reserve Association. He enjoyed a forty year career with Lynchburg Foundry Company from which he retired in 1986. He held the position of Manager of Human Resources. During World War II, he enlisted in the Marines as a seventeen year old. He served in the Pacific War as a member of Marine Air Group 61 and Marine Bombing Squadron 413, attaining the rank of Staff Sergeant. Keeping close ties with the Marines throughout his life, he was actively involved in recent years in the reunion activities of his bombing group, publishing its newsletter for several years, and serving as its President and hosting the reunion at Virginia Beach in 1998. He and his wife Pauline again hosted the reunion in Annapolis in 2002.

He was the primary litigant in the case of ATilley vs. The Meade Corporation@ which was heard by the United States Supreme Court on Feb. 22, 1989. The verdict, written by Justice Thurgood Marshall, provided for certain rights to benefits by employees whose funded retirement plan is terminated by their employer, thus establishing an important legal precedent and providing rights for employees previously denied benefits under these circumstances.

His primary claim to fame is for having scored a hole-in-one at the Virginia Tech golf course on Labor Day 1978, and for having parred the ARoad Hole@, number one handicap hole on the Old Course at St Andrews Scotland, birthplace of the game of golf. He traveled extensively, having visited 48 of the 50 states, as well as most European countries one or more times.

A memorial service will be held at Radford Christian Church on Saturday, May 5th at 2:00 P.M. Visitation with the family will be held after the memorial service. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Radford Christian Church; 1300 Second Street; Radford, VA 24141. The Tilley family is in the care of Mullins Funeral Home & Crematory in Radford.