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Aug. 30, 1966 – Oct. 8, 2022

It is with both joy and sadness that we announce Stephen Samuel Tillman’s transition to the Church Triumphant and to his reward as promised by our Savior Jesus Christ.

A graveside service was held on Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022 from Pleasant Hill Cemetery in McKenzie beginning at 1 p.m. with Brother Robert Watford officiating and Dunklin Funeral Home directing.

Stephen, the son of Dick and Pansy Tillman of McKenzie left an enormous footprint on this world, a trail blazed with vigor of life, unmatched passion and enduring love for everyone he encountered. He didn’t linger to become a small-town Joe, but set out to take on the world, enjoy life to its fullest, and to witness as much of creation as he could in his too-short 56 years.

From Army medic to forestry and lumber mill manager, to woodworker, builder and artist, blacksmith and gunsmith, historian, firefighter, electrician, charter boat captain and SCUBA instructor, he did it all, and mastered every bit of it. His thumbs were green, his hands calloused, his mind brilliant. A fierce and compassionate husband, father, brother, son, and friend. A loving and gentle grandfather. A wearer of big smiles, long beards, Hawaiian shirts, and Crocs. An astute debater and political commentator. An Alabama game-day fanatic. “Roll Tide!” The giver of bear hugs and encouraging words. Even here, in this last record of his time on this world, the description falls far too short of the remarkable man, himself. But rest assured, he is deftly casting his fly rod, his toes dug deep into the warm sand, and his beloved Boykin spaniel, Miss E., is sitting by his side as he patiently waits for us to join him in paradise.

Most recently from Opelika, Stephen was preceded in death by his grandparents, Benajah Thompson and Elsie Cade Tillman and John D. and Lyla Odom Carnathan; and great niece, Fallon Cade Kennington.

He is survived by his parents, Alva Richard and Pansy Carnathan Tillman of McKenzie; sister, Edi (Holger) Hill of Red Level; wife, Mary Margaret “Peggy” Dodd Tillman; daughters, Mary Elizabeth Tillman of Chester, S.C., and Carolyn Adele Tillman of Little Falls, Minn.; step children, Will Dodd of Midway, Ga., David Dodd of Marietta, Ga., C.J. Dodd of Beauregard, and Eli Dodd of Kennesaw, Ga.; grandchildren, Bree Shytle, of Little Falls, Minn., Benjamin “JP” Deese of Chester, S.C., and Chris Dodd of Beauregard; nieces, Kathrynne Caldwell of Sanford, N.C., and Gracyn (Dylan) Kennington, of Lancaster, S.C.; nephews, Tillman Caldwell and Matthew Steele of Kershaw, S.C.; great nephew, Jude Caldwell of Kershaw, S.C.; and many aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends who loved him dearly.

In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation in Stephen’s memory to The Extension (, an addiction recovery program for homeless men in Marietta, Ga. This organization had a positive impact on someone Stephen loved, and he was deeply grateful for their ministry.

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