MISSOULA — Willy (William) Bradley Tilton, age 64, passed away Friday, Dec. 15, 2017, in the home that he so beautifully crafted. He was born Aug. 18, 1953, in Great Falls, to Glady (Gladys) and George Tilton. He was the youngest of three children.
He met his future wife Bobby (Barbara Sue Thoreson) Tilton in the halls of Great Falls High School and graduated in 1971. He moved to Missoula to attend the University of Montana and was cast in the play “The Hostage” in his first quarter of his freshman year. Will later became a favorite in the Missoula theater scene. He starred in productions of Peter Pan, Pippin, The Wiz, Godspell, 1776, Frankenstein, Greater Tuna and Swinging on a Star among many others.
In the spring of 1988 Willy, Brien Sanke and Linda Eichwald founded “The Montana Players” a private theatre company. For the next 9 years they produced shows from the ground up, building the sets, promotion, directing and acting. Will’s performance in ‘The Boys Next Door “ was unforgettable and he acted in several others including “True West” and “The Good Doctor”.
Will and Bobby were married June 27, 1977, on the Thoreson family farm and his son Tymer was born in 1987 in Missoula. He made sure Tymer knew how to handle tools, emotions, fun and camping gear.
Will could do anything he put his mind to. He was a builder and worked at Loken Construction for many years. He was also a creator of dollhouses, parade puppets, theatre sets, remodels and gardens; he was a dog trainer extraordinaire, a phenomenal whistler and mechanic. He was “the neighbor” with all the tools. He would close his eyes and twirl his fork in appreciation of fine food and was a gifted cook himself. He was happiest when he was back packing or hiking.
Will’s voice was beautiful and pure. He could become any singer or character with great accuracy. He was a wonder on the dance floor. Will was described by Mike DeMeng this way: “Every so often, the world creates a really, really amazing person, who is in the world to show us how the sun still shines behind a gray sky. The moment I met Will I knew he was one of those people. A wonderful man who made the world better just by being in it.”
All of this wrapped in his kind and grateful nature.
His sharp wit, huge talent, and tenderness were slowly and painfully eroded by early onset Alzheimers.
Will is survived by his wife Bobby Tilton, his son Tymer Tilton and his sister Jane Holm. He was preceded in death by both of his parents and his older brother George. He was loved by his many nieces and nephews.
A celebration of his life will be Tuesday, Dec. 19, at 4 p.m. at the Missoula Children’s Theater (200 N. Adams St. at East Broadway) with a reception following at 2721 Highland Dr., Missoula.
Memorials mat be given to the Nature Conservancy or The Alzheimer's Association.