Gerald Tillman, age 96, of Milbank died December 17, 2015, in Fargo, ND.
Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Monday, December 21, 2015, at 10:30 a.m. at St. Lawrence Catholic Church in Milbank. Father Gary DeRouchey will officiate and burial will be in the St. Lawrence Cemetery, with Military Honors. Visitation will be on Sunday at St. Lawrence Catholic Church from 5 -7 p.m. A prayer vigil will be held at 7 p.m. Visitation will continue at the church on Monday, one hour prior to the Mass.
Casket bearers will be: Joe Tillman, Ben Tillman, Trevor Altman, David Thomas Konecny, Brett Hauf, Matt Treska, Greg Jung, Derek Altman, Ted Anderson, Scott Sievers, and Andy Werner. Honorary bearers will be: Missy Tillman, Lori Lynn Konecny, Jaci Konecny, Tricia Hauf, Lori Tillman, Anna Treska, Rachel Jung, Brooke Sievers, Stacy Anderson, Lindsey Werner, Heidi Tillman, and Sarah Tillman.
Gerald Joseph Tillman was born August 19th, 1919, in Crystal, North Dakota, to Raymond and Mae (Heffernan) Tillman. Gerry’s family eventually settled in Grant County, South Dakota.
Gerry attended St. Lawrence Catholic School and graduated from Milbank High School. He was united in marriage with Melba Seide in October, 1938. In 1939, Judith Ann was born and in 1941 Janet Maye arrived. The family moved to Chicago, Illinois, where Gerry worked as a machinist and tool maker for the Plymouth Corporation of Chicago before being called up to serve in WWII.
Gerry was inducted into the service in November, 1944, at Great Lakes in North Chicago and was sent to Camp Wolter, Texas, for basic training and specialized training as a rifleman. In February, 1945, Gerry was shipped overseas from Fort Ord, California, for the Philippines. He was with Company A, 38th Division, 152nd Regiment. In September, 1945, he was promoted to Sergeant and Assistant Squad Leader. His duties included serving with a heavy Mortar unit and as a Rifleman Specialist. His unit attacked Woodpecker Ridge throughout May, 1945. Woodpecker Ridge fell on May 28th when the Japanese abandoned Wawa Dam, which was the main water supply for Manilla. The Luzon campaign was declared ended as of June 30th, 1945. In February, 1946, Gerry arrived back in the United States. For his years of service, Gerry was awarded various decorations such as the Good Conduct Medal, the 38th Cyclone Division Insignia, the Combat Infantry Badge, the Philippine Liberation Ribbon with one Bronze Service Star, the Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal with one Bronze Service Star, the Victory Medal, and most recently, a belated Bronze Star.
After returning home, Gerry owned and operated Tillman Motor Company. He also owned and managed several rental properties. He later worked as a milk tester for DHT. He enjoyed hunting, fishing, and took pleasure in long walks. He especially enjoyed family gatherings and picnics at Hartford Beach. As a licensed pilot, he had great fun giving rides in his Piper airplane. In later years, Gerry and Melba spent time traveling the 50 states and visiting extended family and friends, particularly in Florida and Arizona.
After the War, 4 boys came along: Gerry Joseph in 1948, Thomas Lee, 1950, Robert Gregory, 1951 and James Andrew in 1954.
Gerry was a lifelong member of St. Lawrence Catholic Church and served as a lector and choir member for many years. For some years he was also a member of the Catholic Foresters and a member of the Knights of Columbus.
Survivors include 6 children: Judy (David) Konecny of Cascade, Montana; Janet Tillman of Watertown, SD; Gerry and Vicki (Rivinius) of Fargo, ND; Thomas and Marla (Fritz) of Milbank, SD; the late Robert and Nancy (Christenson) of Alexandria, MN; and James and Ellen (Rafftery) of Fargo, ND; 12 grand children, 2 step grandchildren, 18 great grandchildren and 6 step great grandchildren; one sister-in-law, Elizabeth (Bill) Welch of Oracle, AZ; special friend, Dolores Nordquist of Milbank.
Preceding him in death were his parents; his wife, Melba; his son, Robert; his brothers, Ray and Harold; his sisters, Margaret Moberg, Mary Voeltz, Gladys Dahlgren, Irene Price; his son-in-law, David Konecny.