Leah Rita Stephenson Tillotson lived life to the fullest. During her life, she had many wonderful roles devoted daughter, sister, gracious friend, loving wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.
She was an ardent supporter of the SMU Mustangs and loved her Delta Gamma sisters, many of whom are dear friends and lunchmates today. Leah graduated with a bachelor's degree in education from SMU in 1961 and received her master's degree in education from SMU in 1978. After graduation from SMU she became a devoted school teacher, changing the lives of thousands of children in Texas, from inner city Dallas to the border in Eagle Pass.
Leah loved teaching and her students loved her. She was always delighted to run into former students with their families. Leah taught for 33 years and retired from Greenville Independent School District to care for her beloved mother, Noreen (Neen) Faulkner. Greenville Independent School District was not through with Miss Leah, however, as she later served on the Greenville Independent School District Board of Trustees for nine years.
Leah's finest role was matriarch to a large combined family with her husband of 36 years, Thomas "Tom" Tillotson. The family was often called the Greenville "Brady Bunch" and includes her daughters Kristi, Jill, Melissa, and stepsons David, Bobby and Chip, all of whom were her great loves. She enjoyed supporting all their various endeavors and especially cherished her newest role as beloved "grandmother" to James, Alex, Luke, Sydney, Jillian, Harker and Lily and great-grandmother to Sophia. Her sons-in-law, Ross Martin and Ron Hoyl, affectionately crowned her queen and loved taking her on trips, special dinners and family outings. Her happiest days were spending time with her family.
Leah leaves behind many wonderful friends from Kavanaugh United Methodist Church, her bridge ladies, Women's Service League, teacher friends, school friends, "fish" group and YMCA exercise buddies.
Leah fought a courageous battle for 5 1/2 years with style, grace, dignity and, of course, a little bit of lipstick. She had great faith and determination. She was so incredibly thankful for the tireless cancer research and work of Dr. Joyce O'Shaughnessy and the entire Baylor staff that became a second family.
Leah was predeceased by her father, Felix Stephenson; mother Noreen Lily Faulkner; stepfather Byron Faulkner; her younger sister, Betty Kay Stephenson; and stepson Jeffery Sherrill.
Leah Rita was beautiful in body and spirit and touched so many lives. She has been admired and loved by her devoted husband, Tom; her family and so many friends. Her life was a life well lived.
A celebration of her life will be held at 11 a.m. at Kavanaugh United Methodist Church, 2516 Park Street, Greenville, Texas, on Monday, Sept. 4, under the direction of Coker-Mathews Funeral Home.
In lieu of flowers, please make a donation in her name to Kavanaugh United Methodist Church 903-455-2869.
Published on September 1, 2017