Roberta (Bobbie) Gilluly Tilton born January 1937 to Walter S. Gilluly and Hilda Marie Norton in Edgartown, departed this life from an undiagnosed heart condition July 2, 2020 in Providence, Rhode Island. After her father died in 1941, Bobbie, her mom and sister Jean moved from their Ocean Heights home to live with her grandparents Orin Norton, blacksmith, and Elsie Maude Shurtleff on their farm in Edgartown.
Her favorite memories from childhood were the smell and look of her grandfather’s apple orchard in bloom, swimming in Yvonne Canha’s water ballet classes at the Bend in the Road, tap dance classes, helping her grandfather prune the apple trees, ringing the bell at the Methodist Church with her sister Jean and her grandmother on the day WW 2 ended, and her first ever trip off island to Boston with her mom and sister after the war when she was 8 yrs old.
She attended the Edgartown School, where she excelled scholastically, played the clarinet, was valedictorian of her 1954 graduating class, and in her high school years was a cheerleader for the basketball team. She was a quiet, calm, self-confident, reserved girl. In 7th grade she met an extremely outgoing, exuberant, loud boy, who, although he was smart enough, never applied himself to school work, named Steve Tilton. She was not impressed. Her view of Steve changed at some point because they ended up marrying.
After high school and before marrying Steve on September 20,1956, she completed a 2year course in Medical Administration at the Chandler School in Boston while living at Bethany Union, a rooming house on Newbury St. In the summers she worked for Dr. Nevin in Edgartown and also as a telephone operator.
After she married Steve and starting out with the $1000.00 she had saved up working for Dr. Nevin for two summers, she and Steve lived in Edgartown, had their first child and then moved to Minnesota in January 1959 where Steve’s brother David and his family were living. Bobbie flew with their 4 month old, Stephanie and Steve drove his 1941 convertible red Plymouth with all of their possessions including their wedding gift from Bobbie’s sister Jean, a cocker spaniel they had named Zeb after Steve’s great uncle Zeb Tilton.
With a loan from Bobbie’s grandfather Orin, they were able to buy a home in Woodbury Minnesota. A year after the birth of her second child, Faith Joy, she started working in the office of the company Steve worked for, Homelite. On her old Singer sewing machine, that had come west in the ’41 Plymouth, Bobbie made clothes for her daughters, including beach cover ups, and checkered 2 piece bathing suits. Every summer, Steve, Bobbie and family drove back to the island for their summer vacations. Two years after the birth of her third child, Bobbie started working in the office of the company Steve and his brother David started, Tilton Equipment Co. where she worked for 40 years.
In 1973 Bobbie and Steve built a waterfront home on Sunset Lake a few miles north of White Bear Lake Minnesota. From that point on they always lived next to water: Edgartown Harbor, the Ohio River in Jeffersonville, Indiana and Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island.
Her great passions in life, were her family, gardening, cooking, her pets, traveling, reading, swimming at the Bend in the Road beach when she visited the island, and all of nature. She loved trees, any flowering plant, knew the names of roadside weeds and, when growing vegetables in her 20’s and 30’s, was always on the lookout for the best manure.
Bobbie loved to cook and used cookbook recipes for inspiration to create her own delicious dishes. The one creation that will be missed the most is the caramel pecan cinnamon rolls she always made for Christmas breakfasts.
Her travels took her to Japan, Hawaii and 36 other states in the U.S., Sweden, Denmark, Ireland, France, Italy, Bermuda, a Carribean cruise with her sister in law, Carolyn, and a 40thwedding anniversary trip with Steve to the coast of British Columbia.
One of Steve’s nicknames for Bobbie was ‘Queen of the One Liners’. She always said she had to be short and quick with any comments because she rarely had an opportunity to speak when he was in the room.
She is survived by daughters, Stephanie of Edgartown, Faith (Martin Schmidt) of Forest Lake, MN, Jennifer of N Attleboro, MA and sister Jean Gilluly of Falmouth, MA. Grandchildren Jessica (Justin Higgins) of Waxhaw, NC, Mark Schmidt of Plymouth, MN, Jake Schmidt (Crystal) of Hermantown, MN, five great-grandchildren, Anthony, Claire, Abigail, Cora, and Annabelle Roberta.
A graveside service was held July 11, 2020 in the New West Side Cemetery in Edgartown.