John Tilley

Obituary of John M Tilley

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John Mark Tilley entered into rest on Sunday, December 26th at the age of 70. He was preceded in death by his parents, Joseph Van-Dorn and Evelyn Delle (Falkner) Tilley, and his first wife, Alice (Louws) Tilley. He is succeeded by his sister Jody (Tilley) McBee and brother Mike Tilley, his wife Marilyn (Cowin) Tilley, their 5 children Paul Tilley, Wendy (Tilley) Capraro, Tricia (Braun) Macken, Yvonne Braun, and Neil Tilley, as well as 8 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren. Born in Bellingham on December 13th, 1951 to Joe and Delle Tilley, Mark was the youngest of their 3 children. He was rightly proud of his upbringing and the lessons it instilled: how to live with integrity and honor, how to be a good friend, a good parent, and a good man. With the loving guidance of his older siblings, he made lifelong friends in the neighborhoods of south Bellingham as a child. Mark graduated from Sehome High School and briefly attended Western Washington University before striking out on his own to start a business and a family. He married Alice Louws in 1972 and together they had 3 children and made their home in Lynden. When Alice passed in 1988 after a long illness, Mark applied the lessons he learned as a child. With forever-appreciated help from family and community, he set aside his own grief to help his children navigate that difficult time in their lives. Marilyn Cowin was a key help to Mark and their family through this time. Mark admired her compassion and can-do attitude, and love blossomed. Marilyn took an active role in managing the shop and household. The families spent leisure time together, and Mark and Marilyn married on May 19, 1991. They raised their combined family with love, camping often in the Cascades. After the kids were grown, Mark and Marilyn continued to celebrate each other. They played golf and took trips together and spent time with grandchildren as they came. During retirement, they became more involved in their church. They particularly enjoyed the camping retreats with their dog, Daisy. Marilyn remained his cherished wife for 30 years. A lifelong entrepreneur, Mark at various times owned and ran Big Mothers Auto Recycling, Main Repair, Daisy’s Cart Repair, and Main Fitness. He served as President of the Whatcom chapter of the Automotive Service Association where he advocated for his industry through a regular call-in radio show. In retirement, he remained engaged in the industry he loved, often lending a hand at the shops of friends, as well as local and online organizations. A renowned raconteur, Mark’s stories were journeys with humor, drama, interesting facts, and life lessons woven in. As a co-founder of the annual McSilley golf outing, he was as famous for his wit as his hole-in-one. He will be missed by all who knew him. A memorial service will be held @ 2 pm on February 1st, 2022 at the Northwest Baptist Church on Northwest Ave. in Bellingham. Donations can be made to Northwest Baptist Church or The Noah Center (
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Memorial Service

2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Tuesday, February 1, 2022
Northwest Baptist Church
3545 Northwest Ave
Bellingham, Washington, United States
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