Leon Monroe Tillman born May 4, 1950 in Union County Florida, passed from this earth on January 1,,2021. Survivors include Betty Ann, his loving wife of 45 years, sons Winston and James, eight wonderful grandchildren â€“ Winston II, Jeremiah, Daniel, Lilith, Jared, Elizabeth, Hannahbelle and Conan, brothers Mitchell, Robert and Lamar, sisters June, Paulette, and Dee and his Uncle Johnnie Griffis. There are many others, friends and family, too numerous to count. Leon led a very full, happy life surrounded by his family and friends. His working occupation was heavy construction, but his life was full of many other interests. He earned his pilotâ€™s license, played guitar and sang with a lovely Irish Tenor, was an active Living Historian, horseman, coachman, wheelwright, leather craftsman, rancher and carpenter.
Leon took up the guitar at 13 years of age, practicing until he could chord and strum behind his head. He worked as a Power Lineman, following his father up the east coast. During a stop in New Jersey, he spent time with a honky-tonk band, before he and his father packed up their belongings, including their dog Old Yeller, and headed to Alaska. There, Leon spent time in the back country, hiking and camping with friends. He and Old Yeller explored the river on a boat, an adventure highlighted by an encounter with a bear. Leon found work on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. While in Fairbanks on R&R in 1975, he visited a nightclub the day after Christmas where he met a young lady from Florida. It was love at first sight. After a two week courtship, they said their â€œI doâ€™sâ€ in front of a Justice of the Peace and began their wonderful journey together.
They eventually decided to return to Florida, following the unpaved Alcan Highway through the west, talking to other travelers on the CB radio as the Howling Huskey with his Artic Fox. Betty Ann stayed in Florida for a short time while Leon finished up his job on the pipeline, before moving on to work on the Laramie River Basin Project in Wyoming. Sons Winston and James were both born in Laramie. During their time there the family enjoyed hunting for elk and antelope and camping in the great outdoors. In 1980, the family returned to Florida where Leon earned his pilotâ€™s license with the help of father-in-law Winston Lundy. Leon settled his family in Greenville, where he built a house and barn with the help of family and friends. While there, Leon had the privilege of going on a mission trip to Honduras as a member of the New Macedonia Baptist Church.
In 1984, the family moved to Middleburg, where Leon was an active horseman and learned to drive a horse and buggy. He worked for the Horse and Buggy Daze Carriage Company as a coachman and used his carpentry skills to build and repair wagons and buggies. One of Leonâ€™s sweetest memories was driving a carriage down the road to Fort Clinch in Fernandina, under the moonlight and moss-draped trees. When grandchildren came into his life, he enjoyed entertaining them by singing and playing the guitar. He made wooden toys for them, including several rocking horses, which the grandchildren would â€˜raceâ€™ across the floor, much to Leonâ€™s delight. He and Betty Ann enjoyed traveling, especially to historic places like Jamestown, Williamsburg and San Antonio. Leon met Bob Farrar in the early 1990s, a friendship that brought living history into his life. Leon had always enjoyed history but participating on a Civil War era cannon crew was a whole new adventure. For the next 16 years he traveled the southeast with his wife, attending reenactment events. He had the privilege to serve on the first cannon crew to fire on Fort Sumter since the war ended. Eventually, he decided anyone who owned 14 horses should be in the cavalry, so he switched hats and headed up a cavalry troop. Always a leather worker, the hobby provided him with many opportunities to rebuild saddles and to make holsters and saddlebags. He also visited local schools for history presentations.
Leonâ€™s chief delights were his family â€“ his wife, sons, grandchildren, mother-in-law, his brothers, his sisters and extended family. He loved to share all his interests and hobbies with them, from history and horses to guitar and music. Even after arthritis stopped his guitar playing, he still enjoyed singing.
Leon spent his last years helping on his mother-in-lawâ€™s farm, where he stayed busy with many different jobs. He raised quail, pheasants and turkeys, later giving that up for raising dairy goats and cows. He helped keep the blueberry patch cleared and was one of the best berry pickers there. He was waiting for his wife to retire so they could hit the road again, seeing the country and visiting friends and relatives. Meanwhile he enjoyed the time he spent with Betty Ann. One of his last moments was spent standing under the full moon, admiring the stars, arm in arm with his Artic Fox.