Obituary : Stephen W. Tilton
Stephen W. Tilton, the son of Alton Butler Tilton and Caroline Warren Osborn, died on October 23 at the age of 73.
Steve was born and raised on Martha's Vineyard, attended Vineyard schools where he played basketball and football in the high school, and in summers worked at the Edgartown Yacht Club. He graduated in 1954 and then attended the Merchant Marine Academy in King's Point, N.Y. In 1956, he married his high school sweetheart, Bobbie (Roberta Gilluly), and in 1958, Steve and Bobbie and daughter Stephanie moved to St. Paul, Minn., where Steve worked for Homelite, first in the warehouse and then as a traveling salesman.
For fun, he raced go-carts with his friend Larry James, and every summer brought his family back to the Vineyard. In 1970 while vacationing on the Island, he surprised his wife by buying a boat - the Betty D.
In 1966 with his friend Larry James, he bought a place in Mendota, Minn. to keep horses for his children. Dubbed the Ranch, the James family and Steve's family spent many happy hours caring for their horses, attending western style horse shows, and trail riding.
In 1969, Steve and his brother David started a business importing and distributing Jonsered chainsaws in the Midwest and soon expanded distribution to the eastern two thirds of the United States. Through the years the company expanded the number of products it was importing and distributing and this led to Steve enjoying many trips in the U.S. and to Sweden, Italy, China, and Japan where he loved to meet new people and make new deals.
In 1971 Steve built a new home for his family in Hugo, Minn.
In 1978 he achieved a life-long dream of having a home - with a dock for his boat, the Peggy A. - on Edgartown harbor where he enjoyed many hours with friends and family, causing and observing action on the harbor. He loved fishing with his father and in the 1980s they made many a trip after swordfish while their friend Bob Danis spotted for fish from his plane.
In 1998 Steve and Bobbie moved their summer place from the Vineyard to Saunderstown, R.I., and in 1999 moved from their Hugo, Minn., home to Jeffersonville, Ind., on the Ohio River where Steve loved watching the river traffic. Steve had built a central warehouse for Tilton Equipment Company in New Albany, Ind.
In 1998 he obtained the classic yacht Lion's Whelp and with Captain Dave Thompson ran charters up and down the east coast.
One of the last projects Steve started was to prepare home lots near Brunswick, Ga.
Steve loved to meet people, hear their stories, and tell his stories. He had a passion for preparing and serving food to family, friends, business associates, and in some cases people he dragged in off the street.
Steve is survived by his wife Bobbie (Roberta); daughters Stephanie Tilton of Edgartown, Faith (Marty) Schmidt of Forest Lake, Minn., and Jennifer Tilton of North Attleboro; grandchildren Jessica Schmidt of Charlotte, N.C., Mark Schmidt of Blaine, Minn., and Jake (Crystal) Schmidt of Ogden, Utah; brothers David (Carol) Tilton of Rye, N.H., and Phil Reynolds of Edgartown; sisters Carolyn (John) Medgyesy of Attleboro, and Audrey Tilton of Vineyard Haven; and several nieces and nephews.
Services at Chapman, Gleason and Cole are at 11 am on Monday, Nov. 2, with a graveside service at 1:30 pm at Abel's Hill Cemetery in Chilmark with the Reverend Roger Spinney officiating.
Donations in his memory may be made to the Martha's Vineyard Shellfish Group, P.O. Box 1552, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557.