Tillman selected for VIP award

Published 7:00 pm Sunday, December 5, 2010

She’s not known for her local star power. She’s never been tohob-knob with community leaders. She’s not the voice of anyone’scommunity.

Brookhaven’s Patricia McGill-Tillman never misses an opportunityto fight for her neighborhood and help its members, but she does itin a quiet way and usually keeps her own counsel. She lifts up thepeople around her using business and brains, shunning the pen andpodium.

The quiet approach sets her apart from the previous recipientsof the ‘O’ Foundation’s VIP Award for outstanding citizens, but itdoesn’t make her any less outstanding. And this year, she’sBrookhaven’s VIP for 2010, the first woman to receive theaward.

“I consider it a tremendous honor they would recognize me,” saidTillman, 68. “I was in awe, considering the people they’verecognized in the past. I really didn’t consider myself in the samecategory.”

Since the ‘O’ Foundation began giving its VIP Award in 2006,five leaders of men have been honored – Brookhaven Police Chief PapHenderson, former Mayor Bob Massengill, Brookhaven OutreachMinistries leader the Rev. Jerry Durr, and The DAILY LEADERpublishers Bill and the late Charles Jacobs. All have stood tall totake up the fight for the Homeseekers Paradise.

But Tillman’s approach is personalized. Her charity is pinpoint,focused on those who need help in their greatest times of need. Itcomes through her family-owned business, Williams Mortuary.

“I try to do a lot to help the people who come to me forservices. I try to help those who don’t have the ability to helpthemselves,” Tillman said. “A lot of them don’t have the means, andI try to be part of the solution, to help make things better forthem while they’re going through those difficult times.”

Tillman entered the world in Prentiss in 1942, the first of fourchildren born to Pertis and Beulah Williams. The family moved toBrookhaven when she was 2 years old to take over the family-ownedJohnson Funeral Home, which eventually became WilliamsMortuary.

She attended Alexander High School and accelerated from herClass of 1960 to Tougaloo College in her junior year. She earned abachelor’s degree in economics there in 1963 and went on to achievea master’s in the same field from Atlanta University in 1965. Shecontinued her studies at Mississippi State University and SouthernMiss.

She would teach economics at Jackson State University and othercolleges for 37 years and work on numerous collegiate researchgroups and associations. She would become a partner in the familyfuneral home in 1983, retiring from education in 2005.

Tillman is a Gold Life Member and past president of theAssociation of Social and Behavioral Scientists, Inc., and receivedthe Marguerite Rogers Howie Distinguished Service Award from thatorganization in 2004.

She is a member of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church,where she serves as steward and treasurer.

Tillman has been known to cut deals and delay payments for herless fortunate clients who can’t quite cover the costs of burying aloved one. The love and care she extends to her clients usuallycomes back to her in the following years, she said.

“My living is pretty much made. I’m not as profit-minded as Ishould be, but I’m willing to make that sacrifice,” she said. “Adollar is not going to make me or break me.”

Tillman’s on-the-spot charity is not always best for business,but she knows it’s what Christ would want her to do. In the end,that’s all that matters.

“I’m after the kingdom of God. That’s the VIP award I want,” shesaid. “I hope more what I’m doing is something that pleases theLord and he will recognize me.”

Rose Polly Powell, president and founder of the ‘O’ Foundation,said the community has regularly requested Tillman for theaward.

“Every since we honored the chief, 10 or 15 people each yearwalk up to me and say, ‘You need to do Mrs. Pat,'” she said. “AfterI got through adding up all her accomplishments, she was a perfectfit. She’s been a real strong lady in her community.”

The ‘O’ Foundation banquet begins at 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 9.The red carpet arrival begins at 5 p.m. Tickets are $30, or $25 forsenior adults. They can be purchased at Polly’s Restaurant on MainStreet or from any ‘O’ Foundation coordinator – Doc Harrison,Andrew Spiller, Merle Richardson or Alexine Jordan. Tickets willalso be available at the door.

This year the foundation will hand out two of the silver cups itpresents to the previous year’s VIP – Pat Jacobs will receive thesilver cup on behalf of her late husband.