Robert Tillinger

of Merritt Island

Deceased April 13, 2017 -  age 75,

Reported by Dianne Masterson Bennett

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02/15/21 10:39 AM #1    

Dianne Masterson (Bennett)

02/15/21 12:47 PM #2    

Wilfredo Gort

Bob Tllinger a great friend a gentleman always smiling except in the football games


02/16/21 10:23 AM #3    

Barry Diamond

Sorry to see this. Part of our group from Shenandoah Elementary that includes Bob Patterson and Bucky Carlton. We were in Cub Scouts together too.

02/16/21 04:45 PM #4    

Beverly Abdenour

I have wonderful memories of Bobby. We both lived on 14th terrace and we always walked to and from school together. We remained close through elementary and jr. high and he was one of the first I sought out at reunions. RIP my old friend.


02/16/21 08:53 PM #5    

Earl David Sedlik

Bob Tillinger became the twin defensive linebacker to Jim Bernhardt.  They both evoked fear in the hearts of the other teams. 

THIS POSTING INCLUDES A LONG STORY WORTH READING - unless you've got really important things to do during this pandemic,

Willie Gort and Earl Sedlik sampled that fear in the infamous hamburger drills - one-on-one blocking and tackling.  At least 3 times a season were pitted against the best in the state at bashing the guard's head, stopping the blocker's momentum, and shedding the blocker to make the tackle.  Wille and Jim were all-state level players, and Bob was just as tough as Jim!

Each of us could handle other linebackers, but Jim and Bob could handle each of us. 

I'd say that we beat them each about 1/3 of the time.  The idea was to take the powerful forearm shiver to the head and keep contact to endure the pain and to move them to one side so that the runner could cut back to the open side. Most of the time, we were stopped and discarded watching them make the tackle.

Somehow they each were able to slam their forearms right above the "one-bar helmet nose guard" and right on to my nose!  Eight years later, the doctor explained that the operation to fix my "deviated septum"  took longer than expected because my nose had been broken at least five times!   Thanks to Bob and Jim...

We were Stingarees on the same team and very proud of their power, speed, and skill!

So, Bob was an honored teammate and always very friendly and supportive.  Bob was quick and strong.  Jim was all that and more - the soul of the Stingaree experience.

One very stormy day, we practiced inside the gym - just doing drills to keep in shape - shorts & socks. 

Then Coach Davis announced, "Fella's we got some wrestlin' mats here, so we're going to do some wrestlin'.  Let's start with Sedlik."  

So, I proudly took a spot on the mat - first choice and all.  I was hoping to wrestle Steve Rosean or someone shorter than I was!  No such luck...

Then Davis continued, "Well, let's see... I think I'll match you up with.. ah...Tillinger!"

Bob showed up on the mat, and I envisioned a tough battle ahead, but what's the big deal with wrestling?

Someone pointed out that wrestlers start with one on his hands and knees and the other one beside him with an arm around the waist and his hand on his opponent's wrist.  This is somewhat familiar, but something new to me.

So, Bob got down in position and I got set up beside him.  I was just set to grab his wrist snd squeeze him or "something more dramatic" and the whistle blew.  It was a blur as he flipped out of my "hold" wrapped his arms around me a turned me over and pinned me so I could not move. I struggled for a while... and it was over.

OK. I'm into this now and we'll just have to see how he can handle ME!   So this time I was on our fours and I was determined not to allow him to overpower me!  I could easily tell that I had no defense against him... The whistle blew and I was determined to fight!   He tried to flip me over and I scampered away.  He stood up and grabbed my leg and flipped me over.  I was scrambling and sweating and angry and reached deep down for all the power I could muster...  I never could remember what happened, but he was on me with his body and pressing my shoulders to the mat.  It was over...

There was one more match with me on top this time... I was ready now! The whistle blew and I really held him hard. By now, it was clearly my advantage, until he easily slipped out of my wrist hold and I looked up he was smiling as he pinned me for the third time.

I remember Bob smiling and the teammates hollerin' with joy and me an exhausted sweaty mess and suddenly it was time to go to the showers.  I don't remember if anyone else wrestled that day.  . But I was done - completely done and defeated.

Really?  We were two evenly matched Stingarees and this was the result?  Tillinger manhandled Sedlik!

About a week went by with everyone seemingly telling me that Tillinger was better than me - he was...

Then, Serge Martinez broke the news to me, "Hey Earl, no one wanted you to know, but I need to tell you something about Tillinger.  He's been wrestling since 8th grade for the Boys Club and he was a state champion at least twice!"

I never blew his cover.  Tillinger was better than Sedlik - and everyone knew that!  I was proud to be his teammate. Now, decades later... I realize that it was a set-up... Nevertheless, Bob was remarkable!

Bob was always a hit at every reunion, and I know he faced some difficult times,  but he always had my respect.

I would love to have been able to give him one more hug!






02/17/21 12:45 AM #6    

George Alan Nowicki

Thanks Earl, a great tribute to Bobby Tillinger.

02/17/21 08:11 AM #7    

H. Steven "Steve" Mishket

Sorry to hear this. Bobby was one of the good guys. Rest in peace.

02/17/21 12:27 PM #8    

Eddie Jenkins (Shenandoah)

I did not get to be around Bobby at MHS but he was in my 8th grade homeroom at Shenandoah and we followed the same path to and from school, I lived in the old Vanta Court Apts.  Bobby, like all of my Shenandoah and MHS friends was always congenial and full of spirited fun. I don’t have too many regrets in life but one wish that keeps reoccurring is the wish that I could have played football with the likes of Bobby Tillinger at MHS.

02/17/21 02:53 PM #9    

Ira Abrams

What a great story about Bob Tillingr, Earl. Loved reading it! Thanks for sharing. All the best.

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