Linda Lowe Tillman, 78, passed away peacefully at Wuesthoff Hospice House in Rockledge, Florida on February 28, 2017 due to complications from a meningioma initially treated in 2012. Dr. Alfredo Quinones (Dr. Q) performed a second surgery at Mayo Hospital in Jacksonville on Oct 5th, 2016. Subsequently, Linda remained in recovery at Mayo Clinic and Brooks Rehab for 2 months before returning to Merritt Island on Nov 29 where she was under 24 hour home care for 2 1/2 months until admitted to Hospice.
Linda was born in Mishawaka, Indiana on June 8, 1938 to Virginia and Howard Lowe and grew up with an older brother, Tom Lowe who lives in Lafayette, California. Linda attended Mishawaka High School and graduated from Purdue University in 1960 with a BA and where she was President of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority.
Linda met Dick, her future husband, at a Snipe Regatta at Diamond Lake, Michigan, where he traveled from Eglin AFB, Ft. Walton Beach, Florida, to train for the 1959 Snipe World Championship and the 1959 Pan American Games in Chicago as part of the United States Pan American Team. Linda was on the registration committee and when Dick registered from Florida Linda said ,”You mean you came all the way from Florida to sail in this regatta?” Dick later acknowledged this as a spark of interest and events progressed from there.
Linda graduated from Purdue University in 1960 and took a first grade teaching job at Eglin AFB, Florida. Sure enough, according to plan, a marriage took place in Elkhart, Indiana on July 29, 1961 and off they went to Texas A&M University where Dick earned a Graduate Industrial Engineering Degree and Linda gave birth to Laurie in 1962, the first of their three daughters. Next daughter, Libbie, was born in 1964 in South Bend, Indiana near where Linda and Dick were stationed at Wright-Patterson AFB, Dayton, Ohio. Daughter number three, Susan, was born in France in 1966 where Dick were stationed for a year with the U S Air Force before being transferred to Wiesbaden, Germany.
Linda’s and the family’s next move was to Charleston, South Carolina in 1969 where she became active in the colonial dated St. Andrews Church while Dick taught Air Force ROTC at The Citadel (1969-1973). Here, Linda was in her full child-rearing days. These continued in Orlando from 1973-1976 where Dick worked as an Air Force Plant rep at Martin Marietta. While there she took on the job as the girls’ elementary school PTA President.
Then in 1976, Linda and the family moved for Dick’s final Air Force assignment at Patrick AFB in Satellite Beach, Florida before his retirement in 1979. While there, Linda was active with the Holy Apostles Church as a choir member, Altar Guild member and Daughters of the King member. She was also involved with the local Kappa Kappa Gamma Alumnae Chapter, and The Haven for Women and Children in Melbourne. Most significantly, from 1981 to 1991, she was editor-in-chief of the International J/24 Class Association, a sailing organization of over 2000 members from 16 different countries . Dick was the Executive Director of this organization and when he retired, Linda became editor of the quarterly newsletter for the International Sunfish Class Association, an equally large group of single-handed Sunfish sailors as the multi crewed J/24 keel boat class.
In 1984 Linda and Dick moved to a waterfront home on Merritt Island, Florida where they continued their sailing activities with the Sunfish and J/24. Linda was a fierce, but always smiling
competitor in every class boat she sailed. She competed in two US Sailing Championships, qualified for the finals of the US Women’s Sailing Championship, competed in four J/24 World Championships, six Sunfish World Championships, an E-Scow National Championship and in 1985 raced in the first Women’s World Keelboat Championship. Linda was also the top woman competitor in the 2011 Sunfish US Masters and was a regular competitor in the Women’s North Americans finishing in the top 10 eight times including 4 second place finishes and winning the event in 1998.. At the local level, she was pretty much unbeatable.
In 1991, Linda and Dick purchased a summer cottage in Syracuse, Indiana where Dick had spent his summers growing up. She and Dick enjoyed each summer there where their 9 grandchildren (born between 1994 and 2002) would come to visit.
Other activities Linda participated in were oil painting, sewing-knitting-crocheting, and enjoying sports with her 9 grandchildren including swimming, golf, tennis, pickleball, canoeing, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, water and snow/cross country skiing, yoga, and gardening.
Linda was an amazing woman by any standard who enriched the lives of those she touched by her smile, grace, kindness, determination, loyalty, courage and wisdom.
Linda is predeceased by her parents, brother-in-law Jack Tillman (April 14, 1999), and sister-in-law Mary Lu Lowe (September 29, 2015).
She is survived by her husband, Dick Tillman of Merritt Island, daughters Laurie Ward and husband Barry of Springfield, MO, Libbie FitzGerald and husband Tim of Issaquah, WA, and Susan Berg and husband Kenton of Sammamish, WA, grandchildren Ricky, Ginny, John, and Kevin Ward, Russell, Jane, and Brian FitzGerald, Tara and Leah Berg, brother Tom Lowe of Lafayette, CA, nephews Mark Lowe and wife Susan of Danville, CA and Brad Lowe and wife Beth of Alamo, CA and sister-in-law Pat Tillman of Vero Beach, FL.