Louis Tilley was born in Maplewood, N.J., on Jan. 15, 1916, and graduated from Toms River High School, N.J. He married Mary Ryan and together they had three sons. She passed away very young. World War II began shortly thereafter, and he enlisted in the USAF. He flew 34 missions over Germany as a B-17 pilot, leaving his boys in the care of his elder sister, Louise Tilley. He was awarded the Air Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross.
After the liberation of Paris, France, he met Madeleine Planchon, who was working at the American Express and they were married in Meudon, a Paris suburb and his new bride travelled to America by boat, adopted his three sons and together they produced a daughter. They remained married for 66 years until his death on May 2, 2012, age 96.
Taking advantage of the GI Bill, he moved his family to New Orleans and eventually to Slidell, La., where he started Gulf Coast Towing Company, culminating in pushing NASA's Apollo Rocket between the Bay Saint Louis Test Facility and Cape Canaveral for several years. After retiring and moving to Cape Coral, he became involved in real estate, building condominiums, building sail boats (The Tropic Star line) and in Mel Fisher's treasure salvors. He donated all the proceeds of his share of the treasure to the Miami Historical Museum, for which he was publicly recognized. As a recognized philanthropist, he founded Brighten The Corners, a trust that sends worthy high school students to college, and which is being funded posthumously by his estate.
During their long and adventurous 66 year marriage, Lou and Madeleine travelled throughout the U.S., parts of Canada and Europe. They sailed throughout the Bahamas, Virgin Islands, Antilles, Yucatan and Bermuda for 30 years, plus much weekend racing in between. Lou and Madeline were very active members of the Mandeville Yacht Club in Louisiana, the CMCS Sailing Club of Fort Myers and the Cape Coral Sailing Club.
Mr. Tilley is survived by his wife, Madeleine, and three of their four children, Orlando Kenneth Tilley, David James Tilley and Michele Tilley Fry; nine grandchildren; 14 great-grandchildren and four great-greats.
Their oldest son, Frederick Leslie Tilley, passed away in 2009.
Visitation will be held for Mr. TIlley from 1-3 p.m., Monday, May 7, at the Fuller Metz Funeral Home, Cape Coral.
In lieu of flowers contributions can be made to Brighten The Corners, c/o Community Foundation, 4729 Vincennes Blvd., Cape Coral, FL 33904, to help promising young students to further their academic education.
Please visit www.fullermetz.com to view Lou's life tribute.