When I was a student at Erskine Theological Seminary there was a meeting that would take place periodically, almost always but not exclusively at the First Presbyterian Church in Columbia, South Carolina, under the auspices of the Reformed Fellowship of the Southeastern United States. It was an ecumenical affair with Presbyterians (which I then was), Reformed Baptists, and a few non-denominational Reformed types (I don't remember any Anglicans, unfortunately) coming together for a worship service, lecture, and then a lunch. It was a good gathering that served for me to supplement seminary and as continuing education for those out of school -- I wish it would come back. The attendees were ministers, ruling elders, and theological students and it was at those meetings that I first got to know a PCA Ruling Elder named Robert James Tiller but known to almost all who had the privilege of knowing him as "Bobbie."
Bobbie Tiller was from Mayesville, South Carolina, and through the years had recieved bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of South Carolina, served in the Navy, taught, and farmed cotton and hogs. He had also married, twice, a good woman named Annette Corbett (the first time was when they were in a mock wedding when they were schoolchildren [I told him that as the only kid with white-tie and tails he was a shoe-in]) whom he loved dearly and with whom he had two sons and a daughter and two grandchildren. Somewhere along the way he and Annette had acquired a condominium in Myrtle Beach and they split their time between Mayesville and the beach. Once when I had moved back to Myrtle Beach in the late 1990s they surprised me by stopping by to see me while out riding their bicycle built for two -- they had several of them and enjoyed both the sightseeing and exercise that they provided. They also had a boat and for many years would take a cruise down various rivers all over the United States each summer.
Both stalwart Presbyterians, Bobbie was a member and longtime Ruling Elder at Faith Presbyterian Church (PCA) , Annette a member of the Mayesville Presbyterian Church (ARP), both of which they supported faithfully. In the mid-2000s Bobbie ran for Myrtle Beach City Council -- I encouraged friends and family who lived there to support him and he would've gotten my vote if I still did; unfortunately he wasn't elected.
My friendship with Bobbie continued even as the Book of Common Prayer drew me to Anglicanism. We corresponded and in the mid-2000s I first assisted and later began serving as Vicar of the Chapel of St. Charles, King and Martyr, a private chapel in Mayesville, where services are held several times a year. Despite the fact that I doubt he shared the enthusiasm for the Royal Martyr that some of us have, Bobbie and Annette would usually be found at the services and later the the dinners that follow and seeing them and catching up was always something that I looked forward to when at the Chapel.
Bobbie Tiller loved his Lord and served Him through the church and as an active Gideon. He loved his family and especially his wife of 62 years, from whom he was inseparable, his country and particularly the Southland whence his roots went deep. To count him as a friend was a blessing and he touched many lives in his 86 years on this earth.
It was with great sadness, therefore, that I learned that Bobbie had died suddenly late last month (the services were private). I am saddened that I will not be able to visit and commiserate with my friend again in this life but give thanks for the hope that was his through Christ Jesus Our Lord and also rejoice for the privilege of knowing him and his beloved wife. "And I heard a voice from heaven saying, 'Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.' 'Blessed indeed,' says the Spirit, 'that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!'” -- Revelation 14:13 (ESV)
May he rest in peace and rise in glory.