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Appleton - Elmer Walter Tilley, age 95, passed away peacefully at his earthly home and entered his Heavenly Home on October 22, 2018. He was born on December 15, 1922 in Cleveland, Ohio, a son of Walter and Martha (Hohnke) Tilley. As an infant his family moved to Waukesha, Wisconsin. His father died when Elmer was a boy, during the Great Depression. He sold newspapers on a bicycle route and jumped trains hustling papers to make a few more cents to help his mother. The value of a dollar and a strong work ethic was instilled in him at a very young age and those values remained with him all his days.
He graduated from Waukesha High School and attended Marquette University in Milwaukee. He proudly served his country in the U.S. Army during WWII from October 1942 to January 1946. He served as Staff Sgt. in the Radar Signal Corp, primarily in New Guinea and the Philippines under the command of General Douglas MacArthur.
Elmer then moved to New London where he owned and operated dump trucks that worked with road construction and was also a Verifine ice cream delivery man (his family liked to tell him that he was a Very Fine Man!) He met his wife, Gloria Ann Raddatz, in New London and they were united in marriage at Grace Lutheran Church in Sugarbush on May 29, 1954. They moved to Appleton where they raised their two daughters, Dawn and Lynn. Elmer was employed at various grocery stores including Alko Super Market, Piggly Wiggly, and Steiners. Elmer and Gloria also built, owned, and operated Open Aire Drive-Inn in Greenville for 11 years. He was employed at the Appleton U.S. Postal Service as a letter carrier for 30 years until his retirement in 1986. He was a long-time member of both the NALC (National Association of Letter Carriers) and NARFE (National Association of Retired Federal Employees).
Elmer was baptized at the Tilley home in Waukesha on May 14, 1927 and confirmed in his faith at Bethlehem Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hortonville. He was a long-time member of St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Appleton. He faithfully served his Lord in many capacities at St. Matthew as President, Vice President, Treasurer, Usher, and on various committees. For many years he organized the treat bag distribution for the children's Christmas program. He also spent countless hours with his dear friend, Victor Timm, in the woodshop crafting meticulous projects for the remodeling and beautification of St. Matthew.
Elmer enjoyed their cottage in Townsend for many years where he was able to spend time with his family, fish, and enjoy nature. He loved all of God’s creatures, especially his Schnauzers – Frosty, Dusty, Scooter and Cinder. He enjoyed spending time in his den watching birds and animals in the woods. Elmer was also an avid gardener and enjoyed making maple syrup in his woods.
His family was very dear to him and held a very special place in his heart. When his girls were young, annual summer family road trips out West were special times. When grandchildren came along, he and Gloria would never miss any of their events and activities. In his final days, visits from his great-grandchildren would especially light up his eyes and make him smile.
He is survived by his beloved wife of 64 years, Gloria Tilley; daughters Dawn Fontecchio (fiance' Alan Mueller) and Lynn (Allen) Johnson; grandchildren Ryan Fontecchio, Angela (Eric) Bemowski, Robert (Kacey) Fontecchio, Luke Johnson, and Rachel (Tanner) Alanko; great-grandchildren Olivia Fontecchio, Lincoln and Tenley Bemowski, Jack and Tilley Fontecchio, and Levi Alanko; great nieces Crystal and Theresa Tilley; and many special members of Gloria’s family and other dear friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents Walter and Martha Tilley; sisters Esther Tilley, Tillie May Dixon and Doris Tilley; and nephew Chris Tilley.
The funeral service will be held on Friday October 26, 2018 at 11:00 am at St Matthew Lutheran Church, 129 S. Mason St, Appleton, WI. Visitation will be from 9:00 am until the time of the service with Pastor Jon Kuske officiating. Entombment will be at the Star of Hope Mausoleum (Highland Memorial Park) with full military honors.
In lieu of flowers, please direct memorials to St. Matthew Lutheran Church, Fox Valley Lutheran High School or Fox Valley Humane Association.
The family would like to thank the Pastors of St. Matthew for their visits and prayers, amazing neighbors, wonderful caregivers, Theda Care at Home, Senior Helpers, and Theda Care Hospice. The outpouring of caring, sharing, and love has been unbelievable, and our family is so blessed to have come to know every one of you! A special thanks to Gay & Judy, Ryan & Fran, Bonnie, Kathy, Rose, and Heather.