Gary Lee Tiller, 73, passed away June 1.
Gary was born March 10, 1944, in Burns, to JC and Erma (Hobbs) Tiller, the youngest of four; William (Bill), Leland, and Ardis.
Gary attended school in Hines from first to eighth grade, then graduated from Burns Union High School in 1962. He participated in high school football and track, and worked at Tiller’s Market after school and on weekends. His first car was a green 1953 Ford. Upon graduation, Gary joined the National Guard and completed his basic training in Fort Bliss, Texas, in 1963.
Gary returned home from Texas to his high school sweetheart, Dona Fones. He married Dona Sept. 22, 1963. Making their home in Burns, Gary returned to work at Tiller’s Market, eventually moving on to Dalton’s Distributing, then Edward Hines Lumber Company. In 1974, Gary went to work for Les Schwab Tires. He loved working with and serving the public. In 1977, he transferred to the Nyssa Les Schwab to take on an assistant management role. But Burns was calling him back home, and in late 1980, he and Dona moved their family back to Burns. In 1982, Gary branched out on his own and started up Harney Valley Wholesale, a coffee, food, and beverage distributing company serving local restaurants and stores. In 1984, Gary began working for the Harney County Road Department where, after 22 years, he retired in 2006.
He and Dona had four children, Sandy, Kent, Paul and Leslie. They spent countless hours/years volunteering and attending many of their children’s and grandchildren’s activities. He loved coaching Pop Warner football as well. Gary enjoyed everything outdoors with his family and friends — camping, fishing, hunting, boating, mining, snowmobiling, and traveling. He also enjoyed many hours of storytelling at the “Bull Table”.
Gary is survived by his loving wife, Dona, of 54 years; daughters, Sandy Clark and Leslie Tiller; sons, Kent Tiller, and Paul (Audra) Tiller; eight grandchildren, Lindsay (Ben) Wheatley, Ashlea Clark (Andy), Stacy Clark, Tyson Whitney, Kamron (Sara) Tiller, Mason, Korbin, and Rylee Tiller; four great-grandchildren, Wilma and Robbie Wheatley, and Remington and Rosslyn Tiller. Gary is also survived by his brother, Leland (Gayle) Tiller, and his beloved Shih Tzu, Wilson.
Gary was preceded in death by his parents, JC and Erma Tiller; brother, Bill Tiller; sister, Ardis Straw; and son-in-law, Brett Clark.
A celebration of life will be held Saturday, June 24, at the Hines Park. The service will begin at noon with a potluck barbecue to follow (potluck optional) where memories and laughter are welcome.
Contributions in Gary’s memory may be made to the Harney County Senior Center, 17 South Alder, Burns, OR 97720.