Country music legend, Lonnie Melvin (Mel) Tillis left this earth for his heavenly home November 19, 2017 after a long illness. Mel was baptized at a young age at Canal Point Baptist Church.
Mel was born August 8, 1932 in Tampa, Florida. He was the third child of Burma Rogers Tillis and Lonnie Lee Tillis. The family eventually settled in Pahokee, Florida. At a young age, a bout of malaria left Mel with a speech impediment, stuttering. His mother encouraged him to minimize his stutter with humor. He became a natural storyteller, learned the guitar and patterned his love of music after the greats of the day, Red Foley, Bob Wills, Carter family and others.
Mel graduated from Pahokee High School with the goal of playing football for his beloved Florida Gators. He instead found himself serving as a baker in the Air Force, serving in Okinawa and fine tuning his talents with his first band...The Westerners.
Mel's talent for entertaining led him to pursue a music career in earnest in Nashville. The record labels told him, they needed copywrites and thus began his songwriting career. "My songs are all blessings, they were just there." His songwriting success led him to a 60 year journey as a singer, actor, writer and successful business man. He won every major award he could for his accomplishments in the music field including a National Medal of Arts, induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame and was a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Modeling his mentor Burl Ives, he also found time to become a 33 degree Freemason. Later in life, he penned his first novel "Acting Sheriff" and also began painting. His paintings have raised thousands of dollars for the Shriners Children's Hospital. Never one to be still for long, he traveled with his beloved band, The Statesiders until late 2015.
His proudest role was that as a father. His children entertained with him at his Branson, Mo. Theater for many years.
Mel is survived by brother Richard Tillis of Bolivar, Mo., sister Linda Crosby of Chapmansboro, Tennessee, partner Kathy Demonaco, five children Pam, Connie, Cindy, Mel Jr., Carrie from a first marriage to Doris; and, a daughter Hannah with Judy Edwards. He also has 6 grandchildren and one great grandson, Ray. He is preceded in death by both parents. Sister. Imogene Burdeshaw, and second wife Julia Edwards.
Mel divided his time between a farm in Ashland City, Tenn. and his ranch in Silver Springs, where he lived the last year. He passed in his sleep after a respiratory and intestinal illness at Munroe Regional Hospital.
A funeral service will take place at the Ocklawaha Bridge Baptist Church on Saturday November 25 at 3PM. Internment will be at a later date. Roberts Funeral Homes Bruce West Chapel made the arrangements. Condolences may be shared with the family through this online guestbook.